CHAPTER TWENTY-TWOKike and her niece returned from church and met Gbemiga and his family seated outside the house playing a game of Ludo. Bukky was su
Kike and her niece returned from church and met Gbemiga and his family seated outside the house playing a game of Ludo. Bukky was surprised to see her ex. She didn’t know that he was back home from school. She and her aunt greeted them and went in. She noticed the way his eyes lingered over her, before he returned his attention to the game. She followed her aunt into the room and settled on the bed. She heard the woman saying something like she was going to the kitchen to make lunch. She lay on the bed and heard the bang of the door. She kicked off her shoes, lay on her back and coiled into a ball on the mattress.
Her ex was back. The best way to deal with their situation was to intentionally avoid him. No wonder some people were against dating people living in the same house with them. The night she found him at the back of the kitchen with one of the girls that came for his party flashed through her mind’s eye. The sooner she deleted him completely from her mind, the better for her. She was bent on moving on. Nothing and no one was going to pull her back.
She heard knocks on the door. Who could it be? Maybe one of her sales girls or both of them. During the weekends, they usually come to the room to watch soap operas on Telemundo or the Zee World channel.
“Come in.” she sat up and looked towards the door.
The door made a creak sound when it opened. Gbemiga walked in and she jumped to her feet abruptly. She grimaced. She should have asked, who was at the door before saying ‘come in’.
“Hi,” he closed the door behind him.
He noticed the changes in the room. The former bed had been replaced with a bigger one and a two settee chair with the flat screen T.V set was also new.
He returned her questioning stare. Where was he going to start from? Before he came in, he had memorized what he wanted to say and how he was going to say it, but, at that moment, words failed him. “Bukky, I am sorry.”
She raised an eyebrow. What was he apologizing for? What was he even doing in her aunt’s room?
“I am the cause of our broken relationship. I was selfish and… and I wanted to have my way, regardless of how you felt. I am deeply sorry. Please forgive me.”
She stood there looking at him. He seemed sincere, but, his apologies were too late.
“I lost focus and I eventually lost you. I wish I can turn back the hands of time. I wish I can undo what I have done. I wish I can give you back your innocence.”
Her expressionless face became clouded with hurt, then anger. She didn’t like remembering what she had lost.
“I am so, so sorry,” he went on his knees.
His action astounded her.
“I am so sorry for taking advantage of you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me.”
After everything he put her through, now he wanted her forgiveness. Nevertheless, he sounded genuine. She couldn’t understand why he was seeking her forgiveness now. Why didn’t he apologize several months ago? Why now? What did he really expect from her?
“I will be eternally grateful and ecstatic if you will also accept me back.”
She blinked. What did he just say? He wanted her to accept him back. Was that even possible? She began to shake her head. “Forgiving you is one thing, but, dating you again is another.”
“Please Bukky, even after we broke up, my feelings for you didn’t change. I have gone out with other girls, but, no one compares to you.”
She placed both hands on her hips. She wanted him to leave. She didn’t want to hear what he had to say. She had, had enough.
“All I need is another chance. I promise not to force you into anything you do not want to do. I promise to keep s-x out of our relationship. I promise to let my family know that you are my baby girl. This time around, things will be different.”
She shook her head again. She wasn’t interested. “I am sorry.”
He got to his feet and walked up to her. “Bukky…”
“You are too late,” she thought of Chike. He was the person she wanted to be with, not her ex.
“I love you. I never stopped loving you,” his pleading eyes mirrored his feelings.
“Please don’t say that. Love is more than mere words.”
“I know and I am going to prove it to you.”
“There is nothing to prove. I am not interested.”
The thought that she didn’t want him made him to feel sad, “Bukky please. Things are going to be different this time around.”
She looked up at him and noticed the sincerity in his eyes. She turned away, confused. She still had feelings for him. She had not gotten over him completely. Was it wise to start over with him? She also had feelings for Chike. She was sure that by the time he returned to Lagos, he would ask her out and she was going to say yes. But, now, her ex-boyfriend wanted her back. Should she give him another chance and hope things would work out between them or wait for Chike’s return and begin a new relationship with him?
“Bukky…” he came up behind her.
“Look, I don’t think we should…”
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. “I love you. I will be miserable without you in my life. I cannot live without you.”
The warmth of his arms stirred her emotions, “Look…we…we can’t, I can’t…”
“Please, take me back. I will not disappoint you,” he whispered into her ear.
She breathed out loudly.
God what should I do?
She pulled away and faced him, “Fine, I forgive you. But, there is no way I am starting over with you. We don’t see eye to eye,” she crossed her arms across her chest.
“I promise you, things are going to be different this time around,” he tried to convince her.
She stared at him long and hard. Maybe he was right. Maybe he had changed. Maybe things were really going to be different.
“Okay, okay, fine. Let’s try again.”
He beamed, hands clasped, he breathed out loudly, “Thank you. You will not regret this.”
She eyed him, “I hope so.”
“A friend of mine is celebrating his birthday party this evening. I want you to come with me.”
She blinked in astonishment. It was the first time he would be taking her out to meet his friends.
“Great! You need to be ready before six.”
He stared back at her like he had just won the American Visa Lottery, “See you later,” he was relieved that God listened to him and answered his prayers.
She watched him leave. What had she just done? She placed a hand on her head. What happens when Chike returned to Lagos? What was she going to tell him?
Kike walked in carrying a pot pf steaming jollof rice.
“Was that Gbemiga?”
She met her curious gaze, “Yes.”
“I hope you are not dating two people at the same time,” Kike set the pot on the wooden cupboard.
“No! Of course not.”
Her aunt eyed her. “I have seen the way Chike looks at you.”
She scratched her upper arm, “Ehn… we are just friends.”
Kike brought out plates from the cupboard.
“The only person I am dating right now is Gbemiga.”
Kike didn’t respond. She dished the food and carried her plate to the bed. She sat down and began to eat.
Bukky sighed heavily. She dished her food and went to sit on the two settee. Her thoughts were centered on her boyfriend and her friend.
Gbemiga sprayed perfume under his armpits. He noticed his parents’ and sisters approving stares. He grinned. He had already seen his reflection in the mirror. He looked very handsome.
“Are you going to the birthday party alone?” Remi asked out of curiousity. The last time she went to his hostel to visit him, she found him in the company of another girl. She was different from the previous one she had been introduced to. It gladdened her heart that girls from educated and respectable families were interested in her son.
“Who are you taking along?”
He turned to his mother. Her eyes were full of questions. “I am going to the party with my girlfriend.”
Lola and Kemi exchanged glances and giggled. It was good to know that their brother was dating.
“Is she the girl you were dancing with during your birthday party?” her eyes twinkled with delight. She liked that particular girl. She heard that her father had a bakery on the island.
He shook his head and glanced at the wall clock. It was almost six o’clock.
“So, who?” she pressed.
Remi blinked. She didn’t remember if any of the girls she had seen with him bear that name. She turned to look at her husband. Baba shrugged. She returned her curious gaze to her son’s smiling face.
“Do we know her?”
“Yes,” he nodded his head.
Remi raised an eyebrow.
“Oluwabukola,” his father repeated the name and glanced at his daughters.
Lola had a frown on her face, “Don’t tell me you are talking about Bukky,” she looked her brother up and down.
“Which Bukky?” Kemi tugged at her sister’s shoulder.
“Aunty Kike’s niece,” Lola’s disapproving eyes were fixed on her brother’s undaunted ones.
Kemi blinked and shot her brother a shocked glare.
“Kike? Which Kike?” Remi raised her voice. She hoped that they were not talking about their neighbour.
“Aunty Kike now, our neighbour who lives in the fourth room on your right.”
Baba glanced at his son, “Don’t tell me that you are associating with those illiterates.”
Remi jumped to her feet, “God forbid! What happened to all the educated girls in your school?” she vented.
Gbemiga heaved a tired sigh. He knew his family would react that way. It was one of the reasons he had been holding off on telling them. “I have to leave now, time is not on my side,” he looked at his brown leather wrist-watch.
“Go where? With that girl? You must be out of your mind!” his mother’s voice hit the roof.
His frown deepened, “Mum, Bukky is like every other girl out there…”
“You are wrong. She is not in our level at all,” she was upset that her elder brother was dating a nobody.
He glanced at Lola and eyed her.
“Alakara for that matter. She is not in our class,” Kemi chimed in.
“Bukky is a born-again Christian. She is a good girl running her own business. She is her own madam,” he stated as a matter of fact.
Remi laughed scornfully, “You call selling bean cake business, oh Gbemiga, you disappoint me.”
He didn’t like what they were saying about his girlfriend.
“You must break up with her at once and find yourself a suitable girl from a good family,” his father said as a matter of fact.
“I love her dad,” he looked at him.
Kemi and Lola burst out in laughter.
“Dad, I am sure that she has given him love portion to eat,” Kemi clapped her hands.
“Love Portion mixed in akara,” Lola added. She and her younger sister started to laugh again.
“I am twenty-one. I am old enough to decide who I go out with,” he looked from one parent to the other.
“We know, but, we are only looking out for you,” Baba reasoned with him.
He eyed his father, “I will be home before or after ten,” he headed to the door and let himself out.
“Eh! Eledumare ooooo! Oluwa gba mi ooooo!” Remi went on her knees, lamenting.
“He has no choice. He must break up with that girl,” Baba gritted his teeth.
The knocks on the door got her attention. She turned down the volume of the television and looked towards the door.
“Who is it?”
Kike blinked in surprise. What does the woman want? It was the first time she would come and knock on her door. Since she moved into the compound, the woman rarely spoke to her. She carried herself as if she was better off than everyone else.
The door opened. Remi marched into the room and closed the door behind her. She looked around until her eyes fell on Kike who was seated on the settee in front of the television.
“Evening,” her curious eyes remained on the woman’s firm ones.
“Is Bukky home?”
“No. She went out with Gbemiga.”
Remi frowned, “Please, please, please tell your niece to leave my son alone.”
Kike looked her up and down.
”She is not in his level at all. Oil and water can never mix.”
Kike blinked in disbelief, “What are you talking about?”
Remi eyed her, “You do not need to pretend. You and I know that your niece is running after my son like a cow on heat.”
Kike got to her feet, feeling infuriated, “You’ve got the wrong picture. It is your son that is chasing Bukky like a C–k after a Hen.”
“God forbid!” she raised her voice.
“God has already accepted their relationship. Stop fighting it.”
Her eyes flashed with anger, “Which God?” She eyed her, “You must be high on something!”
“Look here, you cannot come into my room and start to insult me.”
Remi clapped her hands together, “Insult you, abi? I have not even started. I am warning you, tell Bukky to stay away from my son, or else, she won’t be able to comprehend what her eyes will see.” She hissed and marched out.
Kike looked to the ceiling. Gbemiga and Bukky were not babies. No one had the right to define their relationship. She sighed heavily and settled back on the settee. She would have a heart to heart talk with her niece when she returned home that night. If the Phillips doesn’t want her to date their son, she should allow them to eat him. He wasn’t the only man on planet earth. Bukky was pretty and industrious. Her Prince Charming would come for her in good time.
Since she moved into the house, she had no record of fighting with anyone. She hoped to keep it that way till she moved out. Bukky had been setting aside money so that they could live the house and rent a better place. The girl was tired of sharing kitchen, bathroom and toilet with more than a dozen of people. She was also at her wits end, but what choice do they have? She prayed that God would expand the girl’s business so that they could relocate sooner than planned.