I couldn’t bring myself to imagine just for a little bit what Mrs. Coker was probably talking about. For a second, my mind wondered into the possibilities of sexual abuse and molestation but I really didn’t wanna believe it. I thought that was me allowing all the craziness going on in the world right now about sexual abuse to seep through my thoughts. Still, it was still difficult erasing the 75% chance that Amaka could be a victim of sexual violence. I held Mrs. Folake Coker by the arm; I could see tears trying to take formation in her pupils. She didn’t wanna talk no more but I needed more than Amaka’s dad was doing bad things to her.
“Was Amaka sexually violated by her father?” I eventually found the courage to ask.
She looked away. Her face spoke guilt, shame and regret. I wished I had Carl Lightman’s number from Lie to me. I swear that I could have called him right there to thank him for the face reading technique I got from the series.
“You can always tell me anything Mrs. Coker. Ain’t gonna betray you.” I said again with my hands firmly tied in hers.
“He was doing really bad things to my little baby.” She said again with tears in her voice and eyes.
“You said it before. . . but what do you mean bad things? Like he was having carnal knowledge of her?”
I was hoping my questions would help give her courage enough to find her words.
“Not at first. . .”
“What do you mean not at first?”
She sat up, wiped her face with the back of her hand and she was playing with her fingers as she started talking.
“Collins used to make Amaka watch him have sex with me.” She said.
“I don’t understand.”
“Whenever he comes home, he drags me to the bed, drags Amaka in with his hands on her ear, then he yanks off my clothes, slaps me and starts having sex with me.”
“Oh! My God.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like hearing someone talk about a similitude of the scenes from 12 Years a Slave. I could feel a tear drop from my eyes.
“So what happened after?” I finally asked her, getting out of my emotions.
“He started sleeping with her. I would hear my baby scream for me but I couldn’t help her.”
“You blame yourself.” I muttered.
“Yes I do. She was my baby. My little baby.”
There was a deafening silence. I didn’t know what else to say to a woman who had enough emotions on her plate to deal with. What more could I say to a woman who already condemned herself for what happened to her daughter.
“My parents died when I was in University. It was a ghastly motor accident. I was the only child with an Uncle and an Aunt from both sides of my parents. They don’t live here in Nigeria; so, all the properties were mine.”
“So, you were willed all your parents’ properties and then you willed it to him?”
“Yes. I trusted him with it but. . .”
“You wish you hadn’t.”
“I have to go now.” She said as she detached her hands from mine.
I held her hands firmly again.
“Why did she leave home?” I asked looking straight into her eyes like I was trying to get the truth off her.
“I can’t tell you.” She detached her hands again.
I stood up.
“You have to tell me, please. Something made her leave home right?”
“She found out he wasn’t her father.”
“That was her stressor!” I muttered.
She picked up her clutch, scribbled a number on a piece of paper.
“I have to go. If you have anything for me, just call me strictly on this line.
I couldn’t say a word as I watched her walk away from the premises.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The drive to Aunty Kayinsola’s office was quicker than normal. I had gone from 80 to 120 in a twinkle of an eye. Only God knew how I had managed to escape the troubling sanctions of the Road Safety Agents. I could feel a rush of adrenaline so strong that my feelings had become blurred by it. That wasn’t my first time at Aunty Kayinsola’s office. I have been there one time with Jide, but he went in while I waited for him in the car.
For a minute, I tried asking myself why I came down to her place of work. I pulled myself out of the car and walked into the premises of the radio station. Luckily for me, she was standing right there inside a well-furnished office.
“Why did you make me go through that?” I yelled
“What are you talking about? And keep your voice down, you are in my office and someone’s on air!”
“I’m sorry but why would you do that to me? Why make me go through that highly emotional situation when you can just tell me.” I busted.
“Will you calm down!”
I sat my butts into one of the chairs in her office. I was close to tears with different emotions running through me.
“I didn’t have the authority to tell. I know how overwhelming what she told you was, still, it wasn’t my place to tell you what she shared with me in confidence. You have to understand my position here and get out of this emotion.”
“She went through all of that and I didn’t know! How could I not know? How could I?” I couldn’t hold the tears any longer.
She walked away to her desk undoubtedly making a phone call. Her voice wasn’t audible enough for me to hear what she was saying. Not that I did really care that much but I was wishing she’d understand me as much as she was trying to make me understand her. She dropped her phone on the table, sat beside me with her hands on my back trying to calm me down.
“It’s gonna be alright.” She muttered.
I nodded my head in affirmation of what I didn’t really believe in. I kept asking myself silently, how is it ever gonna be okay. It wasn’t up to ten minutes that Jide walked in. It didn’t take me time to figure out how and why he had come.
“You called him?” I asked rising up with an unbelievable kinda look on my face.
“I’m sorry I had to. I didn’t know what else to do with you and I thought he was the best person to call.” She said with a very steady eye contact.
“I see.” I muttered.
“Babe! It’s gonna be alright.” Jide said.
“That’s all everyone is saying. I’m sure it’s gonna be.” I said without trying to hide my sarcasm.
“I know you don’t believe it but let’s go home.”
We rose to leave. He collected my bunch of keys as Aunty Kayinsola walked us to the car. I got into the car, watching him have a side talk with his sister. I knew she was probably telling him to watch over me like someone who had been placed on a suicide watch with all the seriousness written over her face.
“Take care of yourself!” She said as she walked to my side of the car.
I couldn’t even give her a nod. I simply looked away for no reason.
“She’s gonna get over it.” Jide muttered as he started the car.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“You should move in with me.”
Jide said finally breaking the awkward silence that trailed the drive from his sister’s office to my humble No. 5 apartment.
“I’m fine.” I said looking at him with his hands still on the wheel like he was driving.
“I know you’re fine. I just wanna keep my eyes on you, that’s all.” He said, finally taking his hands off the wheel.
“Because your sister thinks I’m gonna go mad or what?”
“No, she didn’t think you’ll do anything crazy, this isn’t about my sister. I just think you need company.”
“I know how to ask when I need one.” I replied trying to be stubborn.
“You don’t have to be alone right now. I could help you pack and when Amaka comes back, you both can decide what to do with the room. By the way, your office is closer to my apartment than it is here.”
“Jide, let it go.” I said trying to get myself off the car seat into the house.
“Why are you being unnecessarily stubborn about my offer? Is this your way of proving independence or there is something more?”
It was obvious he couldn’t take it anymore.
“Fine. I can’t just pack and follow you; I have Eliza to worry about. Her discharge papers have been signed since yesterday evening. She just had to pass the night there because I promised to come for her today.”
He was silent for a while.
“Okay. Now I understand better. Nonetheless, we can still make that work.”
“And how is that?” I managed to ask with a little smile
“Don’t worry. Just get down from the car already. You need a warm bath, good meal and good sleep.”
“I know right. . . but what about Eliza?”
“You worry about taking care of yourself and getting a better sleep. Let me worry about Eliza huh?”
“Alright. Just keep me informed.”
He walked me to the door, gave me a warm hug and watched me enter the house.
I managed to find my way into the room after which I tried distracting myself with a little arrangement and rearrangements here and there hoping the thought would leave my head but it became intense. I walked into the bathroom, sat in the Jacuzzi with my head firmly resting by the edge and the rest of my body immersed in lavender filled water. It undoubtedly was calming; enough to make me want to stay there forever.
I didn’t know I had dozed off in that Jacuzzi until an intense knock on the door woke me up jeering me back to reality of what had happened. I had spent a solid one hour in that water. I stepped out of the Jacuzzi with my towel firmly wrapped around my body afterwards.
“Who’s there please?”
I was surprised. Her voice was still very firm even from the outside. I opened the door quickly; she wasn’t the only one.
“Please come in ma. . . Hi, Sade!” I said.
I walked in after them. It was as if my spirit had knew she would be coming around, making me do the arrangement even when it was like the last thing on my mind.
“Nice place.” Sade said.
“Thank you.” I replied.
“You should go change dear, I won’t mind.” Mrs. Jones said.
“Yea. . . right! Just got out of the showers.” I responded.
“Obviously.” She muttered with a smile.
I didn’t know what else to say to her. Her presence has a way of leaving someone very startled not to talk of having her in my own house. I hurriedly changed into my pajama.
“What can I offer you ma?”
“Water would be just fine.”
“I’d love juice.” Sade added all smiling, not even waiting for me to ask her.
“Alright. I’d go get them.”
I placed the tray having the requested and cups in front of them as I helped Mrs. Jones’ pour her water and Sade, her juice.
“The big goons of the house told me you needed company.” Mrs. Jones said.
“Oh!” I said laughing.
“So I brought Sade to keep you company after I’m gone and moreover, it’s about time you guys do the real catch up.”
“Of course.” I muttered.
“That’s a great idea right?” Sade asked enthusiastically looking at me expecting an answer.
“Awesome!” I replied, not so sure about how I feel.
“Okay then. I would love to take my leave now. I’m a married woman and my husband needs me.”
We all laughed as Sade and I saw her off to the car.
“Thanks for coming around ma.”
“Don’t mention. That reminds me, Eliza is with Kayinsola and she said she’ll keep in touch.”
“Okay ma. I’ll call her too when I get back inside.”
“Alright. . . If Sade is giving you trouble, just call her brother to come pick her up.”
“I’m sure there won’t be any need for that.” I replied after I’ve had a good laugh.
She gave me a warm hug after which she gave Sade a look that said behave yourself and then we watched her leave.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sade had been much of a great help than I could ever imagined. I felt nostalgia having to drop her off at home the next morning on my way to work.
“Make sure you call me.” I said to her.
“Definitely!” She said.
“Say hello to Mum for me. I’m too late to come in.” I said with my hands on the wheel very steady and ready to zoom off.
“You know her, she’ll understand. Be safe.”
“You too!” I replied as I zoomed off.
Getting back to work was so relieving as I drove into the car park of my workplace. Tolu’s voice halted my walk into the office.”
“Barrister says you should see him as soon as you arrive.”
“Okay Tolu, thanks.” I said as I walked into my office, dropped my bag and went to his.
“Good morning Sir.” I said tapping his door.
“Come in Barrister.” He said.
I walked into his office, sat on the next available seat as he discharged his visitor.
“How have you been?”
“Well done with the bail approval. You are really more than the eyes could meet.”
“Thank you sir.”
“I want you to meet with the client again. I think there is so much he’s not saying and we can’t help him if he’s hiding from us.”
“Very true sir.”
“Or am I the only one who feels he’s hiding something?”
“Not at all sir. In fact, I got the vibe he was hiding something at the station when I went for his bail but I really can’t tell what it was exactly.”
“Well, it’s still your job to find out. You can’t force him to tell but you sure can make him see reasons why telling you whatever he’s hiding is the best decision he could ever make.”
“Okay then. Get to it already.” He said, discharging me from his office.
“I love my job.” I muttered as I walked away from his office.
“Your phone has been ringing.” Tolu said.
“Thank you Tolu.”
It was Jide.
“Hey! Good morning.” I said.
“Good morning. I’m sorry I couldn’t call again throughout yesterday.”
“I understand. Thanks for everything. Including the fact that you didn’t tell me you were taking Eliza to Aunt Kayinsola’s house. At least you should have told me.” I fired at him.
“I was only trying to help. I’m sorry.”
“Fair enough!” I replied smiling.
“So where are you?” He asked.
“I’m at work but on my way to carry out an official assignment.”
“You went to work? I was about calling your boss to take excuse on your behalf.”
“Call my boss? Where did you get his number?”
“I sneaked it off your phone.” He said.
“Are you for real?”
“I’m just kidding.” He laughed so hard.
“Better. I need to work, it keeps me sane.”
“Alright. Tomorrow is Dad’s birthday and Mum is holding a little dinner for him, not like he deserved it though but I want you to come with me.”
“Okay. I’ll think about it.”
“Think about it?”
“Just kidding too. Talk to you later.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The drive to the Jones was fun. Jide had upgraded his playlist unlike the junkies he used to have and we found ourselves singing and smiling to Omotayomusic’s We Found Love. It was undoubting that Jide was it; my very soul mate.
The confidence with which I walked into the Jones home was much better than the one I walked in and out with the first time I came. I was no longer afraid of seeing Chief Jones; Jide’s family loved me and his antagonism was inconsequential as far as I was concerned. I could perceive the aroma of Mrs. Jones’ cooking from the outside of the house as I stepped down from the car; the woman was just good in all aspects.
Jide looked as if he had seen no one as we stepped into the Jones’ house. Chief Jide Jones (Snr.) was sitting right beside Chief Coker at the general sitting room with a glass of wine in both of their hands and hysterical laughs to accompany it. We walked right past them so quickly as if Jide was preventing me from saying a word to them and a quick look into Chief Jones’ eyes made me feel as if he wanted to call his son so bad the same way something was making him hesitant about it.
I walked into the warming hands of Folasade Coker as she ran to embrace me. Aunt Kayinsola was somewhere around the corner looking breathtaking in company of her husband with Eliza nowhere to be found. I walked to her side to say hello, greeting her husband too. She hugged me tightly.
“You looked better than you were the other day.” She said.
“I know right! Where’s your baby? Is she with Eliza?” I asked.
“Kai! I know what you’re trying to do. Learn to take a break sometimes. We’ll talk about Eliza later. Enjoy the party Darling.”
I couldn’t say anymore after that. I walked towards where Jide and Sade were sited. The other Jones’ children couldn’t make it for academic reasons; Jide said their schools were on session and it would be so irrelevant to leave the school for home just because their father is a year plus.
“He doesn’t deserve such sacrifice and love.” He said.
As I was still trying to get myself locked into the world of figuring out what the deal was with Jide and his father, Mrs. Jones’ hands drew me by the side.
“I need your help setting the table.” She said.
“Of course ma. Good evening ma.” I replied.
I had walked into Mrs. Folake Coker in the kitchen. I was surprised seeing her considering the whole thing that was going on between her and Chief Coker, but there could be many reasons for why he had brought her. Maybe Mrs. Jones’ insisted . . . maybe he was just trying to monitor her whereabouts.
After the table had been perfectly set by Sade and I, Mrs. Jones’ hit the bell like the first time, everyone had come around except Eliza who I couldn’t see still. Mrs. Jones’ said a word of prayer for her husband, thanking God for another year he had added and saying all her other prayers concerning him will come to pass in Jesus name. As expected, Jide served my meal and his. It was a sumptuous meal of fried rice, salad and chicken. No one needs a hitting of the bell to tell them to start eating.
“Hi. We’ve met.”
I wasn’t ready to banter words with Chief Coker as I looked at his wife sitting beside him, trying so hard to enjoy the moment. I never thought I would even have to meet him or deal with him in any way at the event. It was true then, that life has a way of giving surprises.
“I said we’ve met!” He repeated again.
I wasn’t gonna let him get to me. I was using my fork to scoop some rice for my mouth as I took a good look at him.
“Twice, I must say.” I replied trying to be as courteous as possible.
“I’m sure the third time is gonna be remarkable.” He said with a grin and a wicked smile.
“I can bet you won’t forget it in a hurry.” I replied him not knowing where the confidence came from.
Everybody was silent and I could feel Jide’s hand rubbing against my trouser, trying to calm me down lest I might say words I could end up regretting to Chief Coker in front of his family.
Just when we thought it was over as everyone continued their meal, Chief Jones broke the silence.
“Dad!” Jide looked at him like he wanted to give him a punch badly.
“You guys should grow up already.” Chief Coker said.
“After you’re done doing the same with your family.” Jide fired back at him.
“Ouch! Didn’t know your son bites.” He muttered.
“Not until recently. He wouldn’t stop seeing this whore!” Chief Jones’ fired flashing his eyes at me that everyone knew he was obviously talking to me.
Jide stood up. I held his hands strongly, trying to shield him from doing whatever he intended to do.
“Walk away son!” Chief Jones said.
“No, I won’t. She’s just doing what’s right by you. Not that you deserve it, so I’m gonna do what’s right by her by sitting my ass at this table and enjoy this sumptuous meal ‘cos she deserved it.
Chief Jones raised his hands up like he was gonna slap the hell out of Jide.
“You will do no such thing to my son, do you understand?” Mrs. Jones said, halting him in the process.
“Fine!” He walked away from the table annoyingly in company of Chief Coker.
“A Happy Birthday to y’all” He said.