HAPPY MEN'S MONTH AND A SPECIAL SHOUTOUT TO ALL THE FATHERS IN THE HOUSE!
CHAPTER SIXTEEN – The bun in the oven is not bunning
When Tari got a call from Didi at sunrise the following morning, Rain was still asleep. He stepped out of the bedroom to take the call, careful not to make a sound. Didi sounded distressed on the phone. Her aunt, who was living with her, suffered a stroke last night. Didi took her to the hospital and deposited her bill, but she needed Tari’s help.
“Just a week, and I will get someone to take her off your hands.”
She was referring to Ariella.
“Didi, you know I’d be happy to step in, but I’m mad busy right now.”
“I know, but I can’t get anyone on short notice. Our neighbor upstairs traveled and won’t be back until next month. Please, Tari.”
Tari couldn’t say no. He had a male housekeeper who lived in, and a cook who came thrice a week. Since the cook was elderly with grown children who were away, Tari figured he could ask her to move in and take care of Ariella until Didi sorted herself out.
“Thank you, Tari.” Didi exhaled. “Would I be asking too much to tell you to come and take her now?”
“Where are you guys?”
Didi and Ariella were in a hospital that was more than a half-hour drive without traffic. But Tari didn’t complain. He journeyed there, picked Ariella up, took her to Didi’s to pack a bag, and returned to Rain’s house.
When they got in, he left Ariella with Oscar and headed toward Rain’s bedroom, from where the sound of classical music played. Rain was not in bed and was about to call out her name when he spotted her throwing up in the bathroom.
“Rain?” He started toward her, but a call from Sunny interrupted him. He frowned as he picked up the call.
“Good morning, sir.”
“Good morning, Son. Sleep well?”
Tari’s eyes were on Rain, but she didn’t notice his presence. He moved away from the door, out of sight, and listened to Sunny’s instructions regarding a trip he wanted him to make. Tari argued that his boss was better positioned to go on the trip, but Sunny reminded him of their objective in the company.
“It’s tiring going down this road with you, Atari. Keep your head in the game.”
The call lasted a little longer, and after Sunny hung up, Tari returned to the bedroom. This time, he saw a familiar object in Rain’s hand. On a second look, he recognized the object as a home pregnancy test device.
“Rain?” he called, walking in. She spotted him and quickly tossed the device into the trashcan.
“Hey,” she responded, smiling. “Where did you go?”
“I went to get Ariella.” Then, he explained Didi’s present situation to her. “I hope you’re not mad?”
“Are you fucking Didi?”
“What? No. How?”
“Then, I’m not mad. Naturally, I have trust issues, but I can’t kill myself over a man anymore.”
“Rain?” Tari scolded. “Hey, you’re talking to me.”
“Yeah, as if you’re not all alike.”
“Behave before I bite you.” He smacked her bum, chuckling, despite being thrown off by her logic. He understood her, though.
“Ariella can stay as long as you don’t make me babysit her.” Rain slipped her arms around him and pecked his cheek.
“So, are you feeling okay?” he asked.
“Me? Why would I feel otherwise? I’m good.”
Her breath was minty, with no scent of vomit.
“A hundred. Let’s go to your house and have that badass cook of yours make us pepper soup or isi ewu.”
“This early morning?”
“Tari, it’s ten.”
“Okay. Anything my baby wants.”
“Call your cook so she can start cooking before we arrive.”
“All righty.” Tari dialed his cook’s number. An hour later, they were set to leave the house—he and Rain in front, Ariella and Oscar in the backseat. But before they left, Tari told Rain he had forgotten something. He ran back in and searched for the pregnancy test stick but didn’t find it. Rain had cleared out the trashcan, and he wasn’t sure what to make of her action of disposing the evidence. If she was pregnant, why was she hiding it? Did she want an abortion? And this would make sense, considering her financial and social status right now. A baby will slow her down, especially a baby for a man who was below her financially. That he could travel the world as he pleased and afford everything he wanted didn’t put him in the same position as her. An heir wouldn’t be the leveler their relationship needed. Tari had to devise something of his own to catch up with her.
So, yeah, what if she wanted an abortion because he wasn’t worthy enough?
Or did the test turn out negative? But why was she throwing up earlier?
He checked the period app she had installed on his phone to help him track her cycle. There was a missing entry for last month’s period, which wouldn’t be odd, considering she had been in the hospital for some time. But should he ask her about it? Would it be too intrusive? Was he overthinking things?
A baby will turn his entire life on its head. What would become of their relationship? Would they be single parents or end up walking down the aisle?
WAS HE READY TO BECOME A FATHER?
Tari silenced the screaming voice in his head and left the bathroom. He returned to the car, where Rain was showing Ariella something on her phone. Ariella snatched the phone, and Rain let her be.
“You should get her a tab,” she told Tari.
“A phone is not age-appropriate.”
“I should get this small child a tab so that she can become addicted?”
“Lots of kids have them.”
“Irresponsible parenting. Have you seen the research on how this thing is addictive to kids their age?”
“You best believe I’m buying our child an iPad once they can use one.”
Rain shrugged. “Just hypothetically speaking.”
Tari fastened his seatbelt.
The home pregnancy test turned out positive. Rain wasn’t settled on how she felt about it, so she still had to dash out to see her doctor for a second lab test. Only after confirming that one would she accept her parental status.
At Tari’s, she showered and had isi ewu. She told him she was going to see Jaya and would be back in a bit. On her way out, she asked if she could take Ariella along.
“Break a leg.”
Rain put a cute outfit on Ariella and parted her soft afro curls into two buns. As she did this, she felt Tari’s curious eyes on her. At her house, he had almost caught her with the test stick. Finding out that she was pregnant in that manner would have been a boring way to break the news to him. If the second test at the hospital were positive, she would look for an unforgettable way to let him know.
On her way to see Ayo, she let Ariella play with her phone. When they arrived at the hospital, Ayo invited her into his office.
“Rain Kareem, my dear, you are pregnant o,” he said.
“Ayo, I really need to be sure.”
“Me, I know you are. But to satisfy you, let’s have the lab rerun the test.”
She revisited the lab, redid the test, and waited for the result. Once it came in, Ayo presented it to her on paper.
“I told you,” he said.
Rain felt her chest constrict, making her miss a breath. She breathed loudly, and the tight feeling spread over her body, bringing tears to her eyes. She remembered the baby she almost had with Nzamo. Then, there was the abortion she went through because a particular ex had gotten another girl pregnant. Rain never told anyone this story, but it left a scar in her and guilt that refused to go away for years.
“We will run a scan in a bit to be sure that things are okay with your baby, Rain. I need you to be positive.”
“I am positive, Ayo.” She helped herself to sheets of tissue paper from a box on the desk. “I’m just so overwhelmed.”
“Why? You had unprotected sex. What did you think you were going to get out of it?”
“You should be. However, you must be careful not to overexert yourself. You’re thirty-six. This is officially a high-risk pregnancy.”
“Don’t overwork, Rain. I know you. I will follow you closely. You can’t afford to miss any antenatal appointment. This baby is special.”
“Who’s the father, though? Your new boyfriend?”
“I’m not telling.”
“As long as it’s not that Noah person, that’s fine.” Ayo stood. “I want to do this scan myself. So, let’s get to it.”
Rain helped Didi out of her chair, and they followed Ayo out.
Tari found the test stick in her handbag, one of those corny ones that spelt out the word, ‘PREGNANT’. He hadn’t gone searching for it. Silly Oscar had toppled the handbag, spilling its contents. Tari picked up the device and sat on the floor, staring at it for a long time.
He went through different thoughts and emotions, but nothing beat the feeling of utter excitement that started slowly and left him in a lighthearted mood. When he went into the kitchen to warm his lunch, he was watching Instagram reels. In one of them, a Rema song played, and he broke into dance. He didn’t realize what he was doing until Oscar barked at him. He stopped and laughed to himself.
After lunch, he went up to his study to handle some office work. He worked for four hours before taking a break. He itched to call his friends and break the news, but he knew he couldn’t without Rain’spermission. Firstly, he would wait for her to tell him because he felt she would use an unconventional route. If there was one thing he loved about her, it was her superfluousness. She had a PhD in being extra, but it wasn’t in your face kind of extra. It was subtle and bougie. She might not admit it, but she was like Kofo in that department.
Rain returned home later than she planned. She had taken Ariella shopping, getting her a tablet and new clothes. She had also taken her to a salon, where they both had a mani-pedi. They came home wearing matching outfits. When Tari saw them, he burst into a laugh.
“I’m playing Mommy for the weekend.”
“Just to see what it feels like. I think we should have a girl. Girls are cuter, and I can always twin with ours, like this…” She waved a hand in Ariella’s direction, and Ariella smiled.
She showed him the tab Rain bought for her. He eyed Rain.
“Is Didi going to be mad at me?” she asked.
“No, but… This is a bit too much, don’t you think?”
“Imagine if it were our daughter.”
“Imagine if we planned not to spoil our future kid.”
Rain moved closer to him, forcing herself into a snuggle. “Imagine if we had one on the way.”
“Uncle Tari!” Ariella thrust the tab at him. “Iz not doing!”
As Tari addressed Ariella’s concern, Rain took her shopping bags upstairs. One of the bags had a book she had bought in a bookstore titled: Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad. Rain kept it on the nightstand, but she didn’t want it to be noticeable. So, she placed it underneath Barrack Obama’s A Promised Land. Because A Promised Land was a bigger book, Rain knew Tari would notice something about the arrangement. In trying to fix the disorder, he would find the book, open it, and see the love note she left in it for him. Smiling in satisfaction, she went off to some other business.
Tari saw the book by John Pfeiffer the moment he lay down to sleep. The positioning of the books on the nightstand looked out of place, and as he tried to rearrange them, he noticed the odd book in his collection. Rain was sleeping beside him, Ariella clutched to her side. They both slept with their mouths open, and Tari took a quick photo before picking up the new book. He opened it and saw a note from Rain.
whose baby I carry
whom I’m going to marry
add this book to your library
not as an accessory
but as a necessary guide to being a daddy.
Tari stopped himself from laughing out loud. He read the note a second time and returned the book to where she had placed it, deciding he would pretend not to have happened upon it. He was curious to see what she would do next. If he read her well, she would try to announce the news in some other way—and he looked forward to it.
It was Monday, and having been delayed in rush-hour traffic, coupled with a nasty case of morning sickness, Rain felt run over. She didn’t know if other pregnant women suffered from morning sickness in the early stages. Frustratingly, it was just past ten.
But the traffic and nauseousness weren’t responsible for her annoyance. Tari was.
So far, he had missed the three baby announcements she made during the weekend. He neither saw the book nor spotted an inscription in the new coffee mug he used yesterday morning before church. Rain had to check the mug to ensure hot coffee hadn’t washed off the inscribed message. But there it was, written boldly that he would be a dad!
The third announcement had been the most obvious, but he also didn’t get it. Last night, she had put a burger bun in the oven for no reason and told him to watch it for her while she had a shower. While walking away, her exact words to him were, “I have a bun in the oven!”
When she returned, he told her that her bun was burnt because he had been distracted by a phone call. But he also blamed it on her attempt to bake what was already baked. “Why, though?” he asked. “And what’s it for?”
At that point, Rain was ready to scream that she was pregnant. But it was going to spoil her special moment. Instead, she grunted in anger and went upstairs. Tari joined her later, but she pretended to be asleep. This morning, she awoke to find his space empty. He left her a note explaining why he had to leave early.
Very important meeting.
Let’s have lunch. I’ll get you at the office.
Rain squeezed the note and tossed it to the floor. Then, she got ready for work. The last thing she needed was to get stuck in traffic, but here she was, an hour later, cussing at the principalities responsible for frustrating Lagosians.
She arrived at Hara Telecoms minutes after ten and stopped at the main wing. She hadn’t planned to look good today or make a bold statement with a red pantsuit, but when she caught her reflection on the glass doors, Rain allowed herself to be wowed by her beauty. She didn’t know if the pregnancy made her glow because her skincare routine had been off lately, but she looked good—and the eyes that adored her as she walked into the massive reception confirmed her slay. Her bodyguard followed her, whose imposing presence made her appear even more impressive.
Rain rode the elevator to Tari’s floor and walked to his office. There was a lady behind a desk who got on her feet once she recognized her.
“Good morning, ma’am.”
“Good morning. Is your boss in?”
“No, ma’am. He’s in Abeokuta.”
Rain frowned. “Abeokuta?”
“He left early with his team for a meeting with the governor.”
“Are they coming back today?”
“Yes. Before twelve. Do you want to leave a message?”
“No. Don’t tell him I came.”
“Yes, ma’am… Excuse me, ma’am?”
Rain, already turning to leave, paused.
“Can I take a selfie with you? I’m in this feminist group. They won’t believe their eyes!”
Rain paused for a selfie with her and smiled as she watched her giggle like a schoolgirl.
“Can I post on Instagram and tag you?”
“Sure. Don’t just be weird about it.”
Rain left Tari’s office and drove to the tech wing where her office was situated. It was a smaller building but with more modern architecture. At the reception, she spotted Yuri and tried to escape him, but he caught her.
“Rain Kareem!” he called, waving at her.
“Not the full name,” she muttered and forced out a grin as he hurried toward her. “Hi, gorgeous! This short hair suits you!” He hugged her without asking and pecked her lips.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“It’s a brotherly kiss, considering I’m boinking your sister.”
“And you kissed me with those lips?”
“So, I have a question to ask…” Yuri rubbed his hands together. “It’s two, actually, but let’s start with one.”
“I don’t have time, Yuri.” Rain picked up her pace. His perfume was getting to her.
“It’s about Demi.”
“Nadia. I call her Demi. It’s sexy and sultry, and… Okay, so, the thing is I really like her.”
“Good for you.”
“And I’m thinking I’d like her to take your place.”
“The place where you would have fit in nicely as my wife.”
Rain stopped, eyeing him. “You want to marry my sister you just met the other day?”
“It’s been a month plus…”
“Are you out of your mind, Yuri?”
“No. Nadia is the one for me. We don’t love each other, and we really don’t care. She’s like… She’s cold, and I like that.”
“Well, good luck telling that to your mom.”
“Thank you. I need your blessing first, though. Then, I can go ahead and propose to Demi.”
“You don’t need my blessing.” Rain continued walking.
“That’s fine. Second thing… I would need you to speak to your mom for me.”
“Yes. Whatever I was supposed to gain from marrying you, kindly ask her to pass it down to Demi. So that we keep everything in-house, you know?”
Rain stopped again but covered her mouth in laughter.
“Laugh all you want, but I can find companionship, great sex, and generational wealth in one person.”
“Let me ask you something, Yuri.”
“How broke is your family?”
He sucked in his breath noisily and flinched. “You got me. No, you got us. We’re broke with a ‘Q’, like broque?” He laughed hard. Rain got the joke, but she showed no reaction. He cleared his throat.
“We’re in between success.”
“In between success?”
“Yes. Just having a downtime. You know, like, when Hara’s network goes down for hours, and nobody can read even a simple tweet? Now that you’re the boss, I think you should look into that.”
“Yuri, I can’t promise anything. Kofo and I are not exactly speaking right now. But I’ll squeeze in a word for you.”
“Thank you, sweetheart.” He tried to kiss her again, but she stopped him with a hand over his lips before continuing to her office.
“I’ll make the best brother-in-law!”
“Good God,” Rain muttered.
Yuri’s intrusion had given her intermission from thoughts of Tari. But once she entered her office, the thoughts returned. She pondered on the big announcement and decided to give it one last try before snatching him by the collar and yelling into his face that they were expecting.
She logged into her computer and hacked Tari’s system. Leaving a message for him, she revoked his access to the main network. Then, she faced her day, which saw her meeting with her management team for a boring thirty-three minutes. After they left, her assistant stayed back to tell her about her other activities for the day. Meanwhile, her phone hadn’t stopped ringing.
“Did you bathe yourself in a vat of cheap perfume?” she asked, cutting off her assistant.
“Me?” The plus-size woman sniffed her blouse. “No, Rain. It’s my normal perfume.”
“It’s oil, right?”
“And has notes of vanilla and honey?”
“You can smell the honey?”
“Girl, I can smell the men walking down the corridor right now.”
“Oh-kay?” She got closer to Rain. “Did a spider bite you last night and give you super-smelling powers?”
Rain frowned at her. “Go and change your clothes.”
“Go home and change.”
“But I live in Palmgrove.”
“Didn’t I tell you to move out of there?”
“Go and change, Ogo. In short, no. Go home, take the day off.”
Ogo looked worried. “You want to replace me with your other assistant?”
“What? No. Your perfume is just so…irritating.”
“But it’s what I’ve been using. You once told me you liked it. What changed?”
“Stop arguing with me, Ogo.”
“I don’t have another one.”
“I will buy you another one, just please, go home.”
Ogo was upset. “Okay, Rain. But if there’s anything else I did to upset you—”
Ogo took slow steps to the door, turning to stare at Rain, whose mind had drifted off to something else. Seconds later, Ogo returned.
“Why are you still here?”
“There’s a Mr. Noah here to see you.”
Rain sat up. “Noah?”
There was a knowing look on Ogo’s face. Rain hated how the internet made it easy for people to know her business.
“Let him in.”
Ogo left, and Noah walked in. He dressed stylishly, as usual, strutting in like walking down a fashion runway.
“Here to finish what your sister started?”
“What do you want, Noah.”
“May I sit?”
“You have five minutes.”
Noah sat. His handsome face bore a sad look. She recalled how she would sit and stare at him dreamily in the early days of their relationship. He was such a fine man to stare at.
“I’m here on Naomi’s behalf to plead with you to do something about her condition. She’s sick and not getting the best care—”
“She should die.”
“Rain?” he said in shock. “This is not you.”
“There might not have been a ‘me’ if she had succeeded in killing me.”
“I know, and we are sorry.”
“Sorry? Noah, there’s a scar on my head from surgery when they drilled a hole in to save me. I’ll forever carry that scar and the trauma from what your sister did.”
“I know. But please, Naomi can’t languish in jail. Rain, do something, please. I know you can. You have the means—”
“Noah, get out of my office.”
“Rain, please. I’m begging you.” He went on his knees. “Please.”
“Noah, get up.”
“Get up, abeg. Stop the theatrics.”
“This isn’t theatrics.” There were tears in his eyes. “She’s all I got.”
Noah returned to his seat.
“Why wasn’t I enough for you.”
“It wasn’t about you, Rain. I don’t want to start explaining why I did what I did because it can’t undo or change things, but it had nothing to do with you.”
“And you wanted to marry me while continuing with your incest?”
“We were never going to get married.”
Rain squinted at him in anger. “Our wedding was in two months when I caught you.”
“Your mom offered to pay me to leave you.”
“She offered you money?”
“But I declined, even though I knew I’d take it. The day she offered me the money, your other mom was there.”
“It didn’t make sense then, but now it all adds up. They said I wasn’t good enough for you and offered a certain amount of money for me to disappear from your life until you had moved on from me. The plan was to get my Schengen visa and disappear. But I didn’t give them an answer immediately.”
Noah looked guilty.
“Why, Noah? I know it wasn’t love that made you stall.”
“I wanted more. Naomi said if I asked for more, they’d give me. But you caught us and—”
“Two of you should burn in hell!”
“Do you know what you did to me? How you spoiled my name online when I wasn’t the one caught cheating and doing an unspeakable thing? I can’t live down what you did!”
“Noah, leave my office!”
“If you won’t go, stay here.” Rain picked up her handbag and phone, but before she stood, she pressed a panic button underneath her desk.
As she started toward the door, Noah stopped her. He went on his knees again, his eyes full of tears.
“I’m begging you with God, Ray. PLEASE!”
Rain didn’t move. She also didn’t say a word. She looked away as he sobbed and continued his plea until two security men barged in.
“Come on, Rain. You’re going to have me thrown out?”
“Yes, go and do a thread about it on Twitter,” she said, moving away from him.
As the security men pulled Noah up, he yelled out her name. Rain dashed out of her office, clutching her handbag. She hated herself for her softness, knowing she would eventually move to see Naomi serve a lighter sentence.
When Tari descended from the helicopter and walked off with the ear protection, it was deliberate. He hated these impromptu meetings that had him traveling interstate via helicopters. His ears always got a beating afterwards, even with ear protection gear.
Someone ran after him and tapped him. Tari stopped and took off the protective gear. The helicopter rotors were still spinning, but he was a considerable distance away from them. His team of two men and one woman tailed him, and they found their way from the helipad to the main wing of Hara Telecoms. He was hungry and tired. The time was 4pm, and he missed lunch with Rain, who hadn’t sounded excited when he called her to cancel.
“You were supposed to call me before the set time, not two hours after.”
“I’m sorry, nau. We weren’t allowed in with our phones when the long ass meeting started. We just finished now.”
“How about dinner? Wear something pretty. I might slap on a suit too—”
“I’ll see you at home, then?
She hung up without saying goodbye. She was still mad at him, and though it amused him, it was time to stop pulling her legs.
He entered his office, and his assistant got up to welcome him. She asked how the meeting went, and he told her it was with success.
“Mrs. Adelabu came looking for you,” she informed him. “She said you weren’t taking her calls. I didn’t tell her where you went, though.”
“Comms sent someone—”
Tari stopped her, turning his door handle. “Let’s do this tomorrow, shall we?”
“About the thing I told you to do?”
“It’s done!” she grinned.
“Em… Mr. Olumese is in your office. He’s been there for more than an hour.”
Tari frowned and entered his office. Sunny was seated on his chair, staring at his computer screen.
“Good evening, sir.”
“Atari, Atari, Atari!” Sunny looked up and began a slow clap. “You’ve outdone yourself, boy! I am truly impressed! A proud father, I am!”
“Thank you? The meeting went well, and the governor—”
Sunny stopped him with a dismissive wave. “Forget about the governor.” He gestured toward the computer screen. “This right here is what I’m talking about!”
Tari looked lost. “What’s that?”
Sunny turned the screen toward him.
Rain’s face was on the screen in a video recording.
“Bun in the oven,” she said, “a book with a title that literally spells out you’re going to be a father and a message in a mug! And you still didn’t get it?”
Tari maintained a straight face.
“Okay, let me spell it out, Captain Hook—”
“That’s the funniest part,” Sunny laughed. “Captain Hook.”
“I’m pregnant with your baby. We are going to be parents. Thank you for spoiling the big announcement!”
The screen went black.
“Do you want me to play it again?” Sunny asked.
“No. How did you get that video?”
“I came here to wait for you and get firsthand information about the meeting with His Excellency. Then, I remembered I had a meeting of my own to attend. I tried to show my face small by logging in and saw this. Apparently, she’s blocked your access to the system. She sounds angry. How did you miss all the signs?”
“I’ve known since Saturday. Just pulling her legs.”
Sunny shook his head. “Childish. Go and make it up to her. But firstly, congratulations, Son! You’re doing just what we planned.”
“Next step, you have to propose.”
Tari pulled out a chair, facing the desk. “I want to brief you on the meeting.”
“You have to secure her hand, Atari. A baby is no guarantee. You’ve only just walked through the door. Now, you must take your place in the house.”
“Oh, and by the way, her parents know.”
“Yes. Her father, at least. I’m sure he would have told Kofo by now.”
Tari slowly lowered into his seat. “You told him?”
“Just a simple message on WhatsApp, father-to-father. Or grandfather-to-grandfather. He and I will be first-time grandfathers, seeing as your sisters are yet to help me out in that area—”
“It was not in your place to break the news to him,” Tari said, controlling his annoyance.
“I know, but I’m a meddlesome dad. Don’t worry, you’ll relate to what I mean in the future. But kudos, Son!”
Tari was silent. Sunny’s face turned serious.
“Just before we talk about your meeting with the governor, there’s something more important to discuss. When you began this job, you told me of an idea you came up with about a movie streaming platform.”
“The one you didn’t think was such a brilliant idea then?”
“Well, I was wrong.” Sunny pushed forward, his face getting even more severe. “I received a proposal quite like yours from a film industry giant who already has that sort of platform. But he needs the numbers, so he’s come to us for a partnership. Now, Hara, as you already know, is looking to diversify business to explore new revenue streams. And one such way is to work with media, which is presently struggling because over-the-top media platforms have taken their clients. Now, if we can collaborate and monopolize the television and film entertainment market, it’s a home run for Hara.”
“It took you so long to see that.”
“Son, you were right. Now, what we must do is come up with a plan to create our own OTT, video-on-demand streaming device. If we must buy up and swallow existing TV production companies for their content, we’ll do so. All we need is the board’s approval. But,” he pointed a finger at Tari, “you must captain that ship. That is why I expect a proposal from you one week from today. A tight proposal, Atari. When it kicks off, you’re going to own major shares in that company.”
Tari felt his annoyance at Sunny dissipate.
“But I don’t want you to keep this to yourself. You can’t tell anyone else. But Rain must know. She will be the major tool to seeing your proposal hit the ground running. It also levels you up in her parents’ eyes.”
“You want to marry their daughter with nothing on your portfolio but just assistant CMO?”
“Nobody said anything about marriage.”
“You knocked her up, Atari. You will marry her. Neither they nor I are too woke that we would let you and Rain play single parents to our grandkid. So, yes, marriage. But you have to be more in their eyes. So much more! In fact, you will be the face of that streaming device when the time comes. Rain will be proud of you, as will her parents. That way, the tag of sleeping your way to the top or being a gold-digger ends.”
“My intention was never to use that idea to level up to Rain.”
“Well, you will.”
Tari pondered on his words.
“I have to be on my way.” Sunny picked up his phone as he stood. “You can brief me on your meeting over lunch tomorrow.”
“I’ll have someone on the team send you notes.”
“Great, then. But lunch tomorrow, still.”
Sunny tapped Tari on the shoulder as he left the office. Tari dialed Rain’s number.
Rain stared at her phone, which was in silent mode. Tari was calling, but she couldn’t take his call. She was in Habib’s house, honoring an out-of-the-blue invitation from Habib. He had just returned from Kano with Dora but needed to speak with her. Because of the urgency in his tone, she made a detour on her way home and headed to his house, expecting to meet him alone. But she walked in to find her mothers waiting as well. Habib was sandwiched between both women.
“Is everything okay?” Rain asked.
“Have a seat, Raindrop,” Habib said with a smile.
“How was your trip?” she inquired.
“How are you, Rain?” Kofo asked.
“Never felt better.” Rain did not look at her as she sat. “So, what’s up? Is this an intervention? Are you guys going to try to unsuccessfully save me from Tari?”
“Then, what’s going on?”
“I got a rather unusual message from Sunny a short while ago,” Habib said. “He congratulated me on my daughter getting pregnant.”
Rain’s brows furrowed.
“I didn’t believe him, of course. So, I called him to confirm, but he wouldn’t tell me how he found out. I…still don’t know what to make of it, sweetheart—”
“Are you pregnant, Rain?” Kofo probed.
Rain took a few seconds to collect her thoughts. She was wondering how Sunny got the news.
“Am I what? Pregnant?”
“Yeah. Please, tell me Sunny is lying.”
Rain was silent. Dora’s eyes were in hers. “So, it’s true then?” Dora muttered.
Rain smiled a little. Kofo couldn’t hide her disappointment. When Rain looked at Habib, it was difficult to read his expression.
“Please, tell me it’s a lie,” Kofo whispered.
“It’s not a lie. I am pregnant.”
“Ah!” Kofo slammed her palms on her thighs and took off her wig. She dumped it on Habib’s lap, speaking to herself in Yoruba as she got up. “This wasn’t the plan, Rain. It wasn’t the plan.”
She walked to the kitchen.
“You’re breaking her heart,” Habib stated.
“I’m living my life, Dad.”
“Was the baby planned?” Dora asked.
“No. But it’s here now, and I’m happy.”
“I’m happy for you, too, Watermelon. I’m just…a little overwhelmed by the news. We all didn’t see this coming.”
“Raindrop, you just walked into a crucial moment in your life and career. You have the world for the taking—”
“Dad, I am old enough to know what this means. I won’t be made to feel bad for my actions.”
“I don’t think you have any idea what it means to be a mother and pursue a career in tech.” Kofo returned, bearing a glass of wine.
“I’ll find out.”
“You’ll find out?” she scoffed. “You think you can just wing it?”
“No, but I know I won’t abandon my baby to pursue my dreams. You’re in no place to judge me, especially for having a baby with the man I love.”
“You’re right. I don’t have the moral yardstick to judge you. But I speak out of experience and love. You don’t want to make the mistake I made.”
“You don’t have to remind me I was a mistake!” Rain yelled, surprised at her outburst. But she didn’t stop. “Abandoning me all my life was already a clear message!”
“Rain,” Dora intreated.
“I won’t do that to my child!”
“I’m not fighting with you, Rain,” Kofo said, toning down her voice. “I’m just disappointed.”
“You have no right to be! None of you do! And I don’t have to point out your sins to support my argument! I should be getting smiles and hugs from you, but here I am, thirty-six years old with a high-risk pregnancy and being treated like shit by the ones who should love me more than anything.”
“Please, I have to go.” She looked at Kofo as she stood. “You have eight months to come to accept that this Olumese baby will become part of your life, whether you like it or not. Have a nice evening.”
“Raindrop?” Habib called, but Rain walked out and shut the door. She stopped to breathe and to banish negative energy. The door opened, and Habib stepped out.
“You and your mom didn’t let me finish,” he said.
“Please, don’t scold me.”
“I won’t. I wasn’t going to. I was simply concerned.”
Rain lowered her head; Habib picked her chin up. “Nobody is going to make you feel bad about this baby, not even your mom. I won’t let her.”
Rain saw sincerity in his eyes.
“If Atari makes you happy and this baby brings all three families together, then it’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
Rain’s eyes fogged with tears.
“Kofo will come around, but we won’t wait for her. We will build a life for you that makes up for all the years you went without the love of a father and of the partner of your dreams. I pray Atari is real, or so help me God, I will strangle him with these hands if he hurts you or my grandchild.”
Rain giggled, tears spilling down her cheeks.
“So, no worries. You have a clan that will be there for you from now until the baby is born and for as long as Dora and I live. You won’t do it alone. Okay?”
Rain nodded. He drew her into a warm hug, rubbing her back as she sobbed.
“These better be tears of happiness.”
“They are,” she laughed.
“I love you so much, Raindrop.”
He walked her downstairs to her car; and, as always, waited until she had driven off before returning to his apartment.
On her way, Rain stopped at a supermarket to buy fat-free ice-cream, which she suddenly craved for. Then she drove to Tari’s house. She didn’t remember being upset with him until she got to the door. She wore a frown before opening the door.
As she stepped in, a motorized toy car appeared from behind a sofa, startling her. Strapped on it was the book she had bought for Tari. She watched the car pull up in front of her. Her eyes scoured the living room for Tari but she didn’t see him. She picked up the book and opened it.
Underneath her poem were three dancing emoji stickers that made her laugh.
“Tari?” Rain called, following the aroma of pastry to the kitchen. She walked in but saw no one. But on the table, there was a tray with a fresh burger bun and an empty coffee mug beside it that was identical to the one she gave Tari. A handwritten note was pinned to the bun with a toothpick. But first, she peeped into the mug. Inscribed in it were the words, I know.
Rain laughed again and read the note on the bun.
I didn’t burn this one. A sign that I’ll make a great father.
Rain picked a spoon for her ice-cream and left the kitchen for the bedroom, now excited to see what else Tari planned. But as she got to the staircase, she saw him seated somewhere at the top.
Rain tried to frown at him but failed. She climbed up the stairs, stopping at a step below him. He put his arms around her so that his face was pressed against her tummy.
“Thank you for making me a happy man.” He kissed her tummy. Rain bent and kissed his head, then sat beside him. In the seconds that followed, she forgot he was there as she got lost in her ice-cream.
“You’re eating like a wolf already?”
“You’re so annoying.” She fed him a scoop of ice-cream. “You knew I was pregnant this whole time?”
“Yeah. I saw the home test result.”
“And you didn’t say anything? You weren’t excited?”
“Not initially, no. But the baby started to grow on me.”
“Our parents know, by the way.”
Rain looked at Tari.
“Uncle Sunny saw the video you left on my system, and he immediately informed your dad.”
“How did they take the news?”
“Good, actually. Well, except Aunty Kofo. And I don’t care anymore.” Rain passed him the bowl of ice-cream. “I have to pee.”
She continued up the stairs and toward Tari’s bedroom. She walked in and was welcomed by the sight of gift boxes on the bed, each in a shade of her favorite color, purple.
“Yes?” He was behind her, slipping his arms around her. Rain noted that the boxes were arranged according to sizes, all nine of them. She freed herself from him and hurried to the bed. Sitting, she opened the smallest box. It contained a doula card deck for pregnant moms, on which were written daily affirmations, exercises, and meditations to help Rain through her pregnancy journey. The second gift was a 14-Karat gold diamond anklet.
“Aww, Tari.” She gaped at him. “I can’t even be mad at you for five minutes. This is sooooo beautiful. Everything here is.”
“But you haven’t even opened the rest.”
Rain dashed into the bathroom to pee first. She returned and took her time with the other boxes, her heart swelling with emotion at Tari’s thoughtfulness. She used to pride in herself for always being the partner who was huge on gifts in her relationships, but Tari had consistently beaten her to it from the moment he started getting paid in Hara.
“Thank you, Tari.” She rewarded him with a kiss. “How did you put all these together in a short time?”
“I called a friend who deals in cool maternity stuff and paid her extra for an express job.”
“How excited are you to become a dad?”
“There’s a party going down inside me right now.”
“What song is the DJ playing?”
Tari didn’t respond but asked Alexa to play him Fave’s Mr Man.
“My Jam!” Rain jumped to her feet and began dancing as the song started. Tari watched her a bit, smiling as she moved. He took her extended hand and fell in step with her. They danced through it and three more songs before Rain got tired.
“I think I’m getting old,” she said, catching her breath. Tari ran her a bath, and he cleared the bed while she soaked in the tub. She came back to the room to dim lighting and soft bedding. She lay asleep, and Tari covered her with a blanket, spooning her underneath. He played with her belly button, making her fall asleep faster—and as she began to drift off, she heard him whisper that he loved her.
“Thank you for the gifts.” She rewarded him with a kiss and a hug. Then she walked back to the bed, asking how he sprung the surprise on her on short notice.
©Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages