Previously on the Arts of my Life
I am still 30 years old and my ambition to marry has not dwindled in anyway. My boyfriend of a few months is totally besotted with me and I wonder to myself why I have been holding back a little. My mother is still on my case and seeing Seyi Atofarati hanging around me gives her fodder for gossip with her friends. I’ve heard her say that ‘it’s only matter of time now’.
Although I tried to make everyone call me ‘Folakemi or Kemi’, it never stuck. Before the first month after the embarrassing situation with the proposal was over, I was Tandi again. Except for Seyi of course who insisted on calling me Kemi, all was business as usual.
My office environment was a little different though. Gifty, Nancy, Titi and I worked at the postnatal ward most of the time now. Gifty controlled many conversations we had. All she had to do was mention a detail about her husband and everyone wanted to hear everything. It was interesting getting to see Dr. Art in a different light though I didn’t subscribe to giving all the details. Some things are meant to be kept to one’s heart; pondered upon but never revealed.
My relationship with Dr. Fine Art had changed. We were now truly friends; a big change from being the subject of my fantasies. We chatted a lot when we had the opportunity but most of our conversations were on WhatsApp. I would giggle in the middle of a conversation with Nancy and Gifty because of something Dr. Art had written to me. I knew it was rude to my friends but I could not help myself. I drew the line at chatting about Gifty. It was one area that we did not cross and I liked it that way.
Speaking of relationships, it felt as if what I had with Gifty was slowly dying a terrible death. I used to find her ‘fresh’ and enjoyable even though overly excited sometimes but I could tolerate her. Now, it felt as if something changed between us when she married Dr. Art because she became a little vicious with me. It appeared as if she was eager to show me that she was the Mrs. Art. It was no contest really. I wanted to ask Nancy what was going on with Gifty many times but I didn’t want to come across as Jealous or looking for problems where there were none. I told Seyi all I thought about Gifty now that she was Mrs. Art and I can say that it did not sound pretty but I felt justified in my opinion. Seyi was always silent whenever I talked about Dr. Art and Gifty. He was such a good listener.
One day, Gifty, Nancy, Titi and I were having a nice chat about an incident that happened during a procedure that Dr. Jobs performed. Obviously, Gifty had little knowledge of what we were taking about. I do not have to remind you that Nancy and I are senior nurses, while Gifty is a nursing officer. She looked lost as we chatted. I threw in some technical words because I knew she was lost and I just wanted her to know how it felt to not be the centre of attention every time. She flipped her head back and forth from Nancy to me, eager to contribute to the discussion. I did not make it easy for her to even ask a single question. At some point, I turned to her and asked her what she thought of the procedure we were discussion.
“Erm…I’m pregnant.” She blurted out.
My next comment was “What?” but this was overshadowed by screams of joy from Nancy and Titi. They hugged and teased her. Gifty had taken over the conversation yet again. The discussion naturally went on to pregnancy symptoms and babies. We were in the post natal ward after all. I congratulated her like the others but I was miffed. What timing! I felt as if she did it on purpose because she looked at me with a funny kind of smile.
My phone rang. It was Seyi. I excused myself but no one heard. They were all busy gushing and going all silly over Gifty and her story of how she broke the news to Dr. Art. I walked out to the entrance of the ward and picked to Phone.
“Hi Kemi,” he said.
“Hey Seyi, did you know that Gifty is pregnant?” I asked him quickly.
“Yes, sure! Fola told me two days ago,” he said, obviously excited over the news.
“Really? You’ve known for two days and you didn’t tell me?” I accused him, spoiling for a fight.
“Haba! Common, it skipped my mind. I just assumed Fola would have told you, the way you guys are close and all.” He responded sharply. I sensed a bit of jealousy in his statement. It is true that Dr. Art and myself had grown closer than we had ever been. It seemed weird that it was when he got married that he was freer with me and we gelled so well.
“He didn’t tell me o. Gifty interrupted our conversation just now for the breaking news of the day,” I said with obvious venom. Somehow, I just could not hide the darker shades of myself from Seyi. It felt as if I did not care what he thought of me.
“Women! Kai! Are you Jealous? She is married to Fola, there is nothing you can do about it,” he said.
“Of course they are married. I am not jealous. I just think that she acts somewhat childish. I have no issues with her and I support her marriage. Does she have to rub it in my face?” I responded. I had told Seyi how I used to fantasize about having Dr. Art’s children and how I found out Nancy had told Gifty of my fantasies with Dr Art in a bid for her to be more understanding of all our friendship. I did not honestly think that anything would come out of Seyi’s relationship with me so I spilled all. It seemed that the more I revealed all these intimate thoughts and past desires of mine, the more he wanted me. I thought it surreal. I constantly wondered when he would wake up and leave because I was hung up on his brother. The operative word here is ‘hung’ because it was all in the past. All I have now was a beautiful friendship with Dr. Art.
“Forget Gifty and Fola. If you want a baby of your own, marry me. I’ve been begging you for a while now. You just dismiss me. ”
I kept mute. Seyi joked when he asks me to marry him but I sense some seriousness about it every time. He has mentioned it a total of five times now. Like I said, I don’t know what held me back.
” Anyway, I just called to hear how you are doing today? ” he said finally.
” Aww! Thanks. I’m doing great except… You know. How is work going? Have you been able to detect the error in the configuration you were working on? “I asked.
“yes, it’s been resolved thanks. I have to get back to work now. I just remembered something I have to submit to my boss. ”
Did I tell you that Seyi is a software engineer? He wasn’t exactly the brooding type but he managed to enter the dark and somewhat handsome category.
Two weeks later, I was standing by the entrance of the O&G Clinic, waiting for Seyi to show up and take me to the National Theatre to watch a musical show I had wanted to see. I heard someone behind me. It was Gifty. She said, “I am sure you are glad now,” Looking at me with sorrow in her eyes.
I turned round and asked her what was wrong.
“I lost the baby.” She said. “Happy now?”
I was livid, “Excuse me? Why would you think I want to be happy about that? What kind of stupid talk is this?” where was this coming from? Granted, Gifty and I had been having a lot of friction but common, I could not wish her evil.
“Well, I know that you desired to have Fola to yourself and wanted to have his babies so you obviously were not happy that I had everything you wanted.” She said slowly.
I was confused. We had gone past this. I pined for Dr. Art in the past, and I left it all there.
“Hey Gifty, let us get certain things straight. I do not know where your insecurity is coming from but know this. One, I am sorry you lost your baby. Two, Dr. Art and I never really had a real relationship, It was all me creating a fantasy out of him but that ended a long time ago.” I told her wanting to assure her as well as slap the nonsense out of her.
She snorted,“ Yeah, right. That is why you are so close to my husband, always chatting him up on WhatsApp, winking at each other when he passes by. You think I don’t know.” She hissed.
“Look Gifty, Dr. Art and I are friends and nothing more. If you have an issue with him chatting me up or winking back at him take it up with him.” Now, I see why she had been antagonistic; she was jealous of what Dr. Art and I had. She probably felt threatened.
“Leave my husband alone, Tandi,” She raised her voice suddenly.
I looked about but I did not see anyone. I needed to end this encounter before it turned into another ugly incident.
I spoke calmly, “I have nothing with your husband. Maybe you should try snooping into his phone so that you can see the kind of conversations we have. I am not a threat to you. Once you tell him to stop chatting with me I am sure he would listen to you.” She rolled her eyes. I guessed that maybe she tried that already and she could not get him to stop. This made me feel cool for a second but I needed to end this.
“Look, I was crazy about Dr. Art. Every nurse was. I get that I was more into it than most. I fantasized about having his babies and being his wife, Yes, I know Nancy told you that part, but it all ended when you came on board and got him off his feet.” I told her. I heard a voice at my back and I turned round. It was Seyi. He looked upset.
“I will be at the car waiting for you.” He said and left. My heart sank. I looked at my toes. I was sure Seyi heard some of our conversation.
“This conversation is over Gifty. Over.” I said and walked away from her.
I got to the car and Seyi had music playing, the volume was high. I got in. I tried to talk to him but he kept turning up the music till I shut up. Obviously he was not in the mood for a conversation.
We got to the theatre and watched the musicals. I did not see a thing or hear a thing. I just stared ahead blankly thinking of the conversation I had with Gifty. I realized that she must have felt insecure with my relationship with Dr. Art. I should not have encouraged the relationship in the first place. I probably did it to spite Gifty. I also made Seyi suffer watching all my drama about another man, his brother. I saw how selfish I was about everything going on in my life. Seyi was probably going to end things with me; whatever it was. I was used to him already, we settled into a routine together. I knew some of his peeves and I knew some of the things that got him excited. He had also seen me at my worst and he just stuck around.
“it’s over. Let’s go,” he said. My heart went into overdrive. His statement had a ring of finality over it.
He took me home and saw me off to the door but he did not say a word. He turned to leave but the main door opened suddenly and my mother called out to him, “Seyi, are you off? What about my phone that you promised to look at?” she asked.
“Ekaale Ma.” He prostrated half way, “I can look at it now. What did you say is wrong with it?” he asked taking the phone from her.
“Pele My dear, come inside.” She said as she ushered us both in. “I was looking for some pictures I saved but they have all disappeared.” I sat down watching both of them talk. Seyi did one or two things on the phone and their conversation continued. They both appeared to enjoy each other’s conversation. When he had solved her problem, he got up to leave.
“Odaaro Ma. I need to leave now.”
“Leave ke? You have just arrived. I asked Dami to do Amala for you.”
“Ha! No mommy. I am fine. I have a meeting i need to prepare for.” He replied.
“Ose Oko mi. you have done well. Tandi, you see that this is a fine young man. A good man.” My mother praised him and made him blush a little.
I saw him off to the door but he did not look at me. “I will see you tomorrow. Usual time. We need to talk.”
His Last statement made my night unbearable. I asked myself why I was holding back. I guessed it was because I did not think I could have him. I felt that all the Arts were not meant for me; only for my dreams. While it felt so surreal that Seyi was crazy about me, it was obvious. Instead, I showed him that I was not over Dr. Art, his brother. I was over Dr. Art. Perhaps I was comparing Seyi to Dr. Art but they were different people. Where Seyi did not meet up in looks, he met up for intelligence and openness. What was looks anyway? When I looked at Seyi, I never saw his face, I saw his heart.
“Oh, I have botched this,” I said aloud.
The following day, I dreaded the atmosphere at work. I got in early so that I could settle down before anything unfolded. Gifty had arrived early also as well as Nancy. Gifty came up to me and said, “Tandi, I did not lose the baby. Everything is fine with her.”
I nodded but didn’t speak. Nancy clapped, “Baby girl? I knew your first would be a girl.”
I picked up my devotional book and read slowly. Gifty came up to me again, “Tandi, I am sorry about the things I said. You were correct when you said I felt insecure. I am truly sorry. I no longer have an issue with you and Fola being friends. I’m fine.”
I gave her a hug. “I am happy that your baby is fine. That is all I care about.”
“What is going on here? What happened that I don’t know about?” Nancy asked, looking at both of us. I smiled and Gifty went into a funny conversation about how she got Dr. Art to do house chores that morning. We all laughed.
I had made up my mind that the new ‘thing’ I had with Dr. Art was over. I did not need Gifty getting nervous around me or Seyi wondering if I was in love with his brother. I was flattered that she thought I was a threat. The fact remained glaring however that Dr. Art chose her and not me and evidence was growing in her belly. I smiled.
Seyi showed up at my work place at 6pm on the dot to pick me up.
I was eager to get into the car and do whatever it took to get Seyi to be crazy about me again. It seemed like some candles burned out the night before.
Seyi drove us to an open park. It was a little noisy but that was fine. We sat in the car and stared at everything except each other.
Seyi broke the silence, “When I met you, I felt some sympathy for you at first because of what happened between you and Fola. But later, I can’t really explain it, I feel like I cannot function without you. But I find out that you are so stuck on my Brother. I cannot compete with that.” I tried to cut in but he raised his hands at me to hold on.
“Every day, you talk about Gifty or Fola. Is that all you think about? I thought that we had something good going on. Every time I think that we are making progress, you drag us back. I get it that you do not see me like I see you. I really like you, I do.” He said.
“I like you too, “I replied.
He snorts, “If I say I love you and ask you to marry me now, you would just keep quiet as if there is something wrong with you.”
I looked into his eyes and said, “I would Say, ask me first before making assumptions.” I could see that I shocked him with my response.
He smiled. “I do not have much assurance. You have never said anything to encourage me or even initiated a kiss.”
I turned to him, “Seyi Atofarati, I think that you are a wonderful man. You came into my life in an unexpected way and because of that you got to see the real me pretty early, warts and all. I got to see you too and I like what I see every time. I like how you listen to me, do things for me, take time to help my mother, bear with me when I went on and on about your brother. I can go on and on about all your fine qualities.”
“Are you proposing to me? “He asked looking shocked.
I laughed, “No, I am not. I just wanted you to hear that. You asked for assurance, I have given it to you.”
Seyi grinned like a Cheshire cat and said, “Maybe one of these days I will just ask you to marry me.”
I feigned a groan, “Not this again.” I was happy that things were turning around the way I had hoped.
“What?” he asked jokingly.
“Oh no! Dr. Art would be my brother –in – law. Ha! Worse still, Gifty and I would be Sisters – in –Law. We would be bound together for life. ” I said suddenly holding my head in my hands.
Seyi grinned and started the car, “I see your big problem.”
“What luck I have. Why couldn’t I find someone totally unrelated to Dr. Art to fall in love with.” I blurted out. I was shocked at my outburst.
Seyi was already into a full-blown laughter episode by now. We left the park.