I am sitting down at a quiet restaurant waiting for Wale to show up. We planned to have the day to ourselves although I have ulterior motives. You see, tomorrow is our wedding day or should I say it is supposed to be. I really don’t know anymore. My chapman is just sitting on the table waiting for me to take a sip but the butterflies in my belly are starting to feel like moth; that very dusty and dirty looking version of the butterfly. I should not be jittery but I have reason to. For me, the moment when Wale arrives at this restaurant would determine if I am a person of good character. It would tell me if i choose for the foundation of my marriage to be a lie or the truth. If I tell the truth, would there still be a marriage? These are the thoughts going through my mind.
I finally sum up the nerve to take a gulp of the chapman. It tastes like badly mixed tasty time, that is if you can remember what it is depending on your generation. Anyway, my phone is buzzing and I see that it is my cousin Busayo. I sigh with some relief, “Bussy, What’s up?”
“Have you told him?” she asks
“He has not showed up yet o!” I respond nervously.
“So, have you made up your mind?”
“I told you before that I know what I should do. I should do the right thing. Tell the truth, I know.” I say, shaking my left foot.
“I am glad for you. Don’t worry, everything will be alright”. She tries to assure me.
“Babe, the issue is not whether I know the right thing. Will I be able to open my mouth and say it? You know how he is now with me. He would just show up and take charge of everything. How will I now say something like this?” I cry.
“You know what? You are on your own. I am not saying this to make you feel bad but you have to toughen up and be a man”. She says with vexation and I bust into laughter. We both laugh.
“Man ko, man ni. What will I tell Popsi? Do you know how much he cuffed out for my wedding? Let us leave money alone, Momsi nko? She has outdone herself and her alter ego. She went all out, I mean all out for this wedding. Imagine after all I put them through initially.” I lament, wallowing in the pity I am getting from myself and my cousin.
“Hmm. I have to go. Dola is waiting to be fed. Talk to you later. I am on prayer mode for you. There will be a wedding tomorrow.” She cuts the phone but not before I heardDola, her baby crying profusely.
Is our love strong enough to weather this storm? Is there love? Is it really a storm or is it something I have made up? Let me tell you what is going on so that you can help me judge the situation. I will start from the beginning so that you can understand.
Wale and I work in the same company. It is allowed in my company. I can hear what you are thinking. Anyway, I work in the IT department and he is a manager at the company. Not my manager directly o, he is the Head of marketing. Jade – pronounced just like the precious stone and not the form in which her name really came, Jadesola – , who is my colleague and friend at the office, took me to the birthday party of our CEO’s wife’s sister’s Son who was turning 5. I didn’t know how she got wind of this party or who her affiliations were but I agreed to go because I was bored of staying at home and being omo mummy. I found out later that she’s a ‘relative’ of the CEO. That was what the gossips told me and I really do not know the truth. Jade is pretty, friendly and fun and I get along with her so well especially because I don’t probe and I don’t judge.
After all of this, I have mixed feelings about Jade even though it’s baseless really. Anyway, let me not digress further. My phone buzzes, a text message comes in from Bussy and I read “How far? #istandwithyounomatterwhat”. I laugh out loud. When did my matter gain hash tag status? Someone comes toward me and I jump. I am so engrossed in my thoughts and my phone that I am startled. It is just the waiter. “Is there something wrong with your Chapman? I can get something else for you?”
“No, no. I’m fine. It’s alright. I’m just taking my time waiting for someone before we order something “.
Where did I stop? Okay, so we got to the party. It was obviously an excuse for adults to party. The kids were having fun alright but this party, the band and everything was about the parents and the adults. Thank God I didn’t dress down. So jade and I mingled a bit before she saw Wale and did a proper introduction. I was all sirs and nodding my head and he was so amused. I must admit I was as skittish as a horse in an unfamiliar territory. She saw how he was looking at me and she just gave us some space. Wale asked if I wanted to help the kids out. I think his task for the day was to ensure that the children had fun. Apparently he was close to the CEO and was instrumental in putting the whole shindig together. I quickly agreed. Abi, who doesn’t want to know and rub shoulders management staff. We worked hard ehn. I started wondering what kind of second chance I entered.
Finally we distributed the party packs and helped some children find their parents. Suffice to say I came to work. As I was about to leave, Wale came to me and hugged me “well done dear, you did good. Remind me to write this good deed on your next appraisal form.”
I burst out laughing. The man was such a clown. “Yeah right” I grinned at him.
“Anny, we turned you into a slave today”
I looked at him “my name is not Anny.”
“What?” he looked exasperated. “That’s what I have been calling you all day”
I smiled, “I know.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” he asked looking at me in some type of way.
I just shrugged. Didn’t say anything, I just batted my eyelids at him.
He laughed and asked, “What’s your name?”
I cleared my throat and he raised his eyebrows.” “Anuoluwaponiaiyeminitorinamosopefunoluwa Banks,” I responded tossing my head to the side and striking a pose.
“Really? How did you write your name on the jamb form? Tell me the truth, what’s your real name,” He asked again.
“Anuoluwa Banks for real although I would have loved the English version. Check out this version,” I cleared my throat and spoke in an accent of someone who just returned from the diaspora. “My name is Mercy Banks and I am hot, sexy and proud.”
Wale laughed out loud and said, “well, I will keep that In mind.” And he winked.
I don’t know how my tongue got loose. Believe me, I am usually shy but I think working around kids just drove me crazy I started talking stupid. Anyway I think all the hype and everything I was doing got him very interested in me. I was very flattered that I piqued his curiosity although I was worried that he just got a very wrong impression of me. And that wink, hmm, all I told myself was that he was winking in the dark as my colleague at work, Jide used to say. I was Anu Banks #omo mummy,# usher in church, #good girl, #praying girl, #i go to work and come back straight home everyday and I am comfortable in my routine etc.
“I feel guilty that you came for a party to unwind and I made a slave out of you. Let me take you out tonight, “he said.
The word “Ha” jumped out of my mouth before I could stop myself.
“Nothing.” I shook my head and smiled. The idea was so tempting. A whole marketing head, #CEO’s boy, #finest guy and so on was trying to get my attention. I forgot to tell you that I told my parents I would be staying the night at Jade’s house. Meanwhile, Jade met my parents and they just loved her. She has a very likable personality, I am not kidding about this. People tag a lot around her, including my humble self. She is always alive with positive energy if I may say so. Anyway, I was in awe of her.
I agreed to go with Wale and when I excused myself to let Jade know, she had this look in her eyes. Like she respected me and how fast I was to clinch someone so quickly. At least that was how I perceived the look and she was happy to give her blessings and all.
Wale and I went first to a restaurant to eat. The place was so beautiful, the ambience was lovely or maybe I was just too excited that my vision was hyping everything I was seeing. I was cheerful, the guy was responding like he was digging me and I was in cloud nine. #lifewasgood#feelingmyself#havingfun.
We talked about many things but we didn’t talk about ourselves. I was curious to know how old he was, if he was into God or was just a bystander, his ambitions, if he had a girlfriend or fiancée, his net worth, and so on. I was so curious and the suspense was eating me alive like meat on hot coal.
He held my hands from across the table and said, “Let me take you to a club so we can dance. Shake it up and loosen up.” I told him yes of course. Since I was half way in love with him by now I was ready to just follow him wherever, to the moon and back.
He drove us to the Qubix club in Lekki from the restaurant in ikeja. I met his friends Kash, Tuns and Kor. Their names were really Kasope, Tunde and Korede but it seemed that people just love nicknames. Wale and I ate, danced and he dropped me back at Jade’s place in one piece. I was super in love with him. Okay, not real love at this point but at least I liked him a lot. He was easy on the eyes and easy to talk to.
Jade was so excited, She felt like the matchmaker of the century, I don’t see how she made the match but she told her friends how she made a heavenly match. I was happy, she was happy, and all was well with the world.
Back at work, Wale would drop by at the IT room to holler at me. We would talk and laugh. I can’t say I was the envy of everyone in the room because they were all guys. They teased me though and I would be like, “huh? Nothing is happening o, we are just friends.” The guys started the hashtag ‘we are just friends’, sending messages to one nother that I was privy to by the way and on purpose too. Some would go like, “Segun, can I have a back rub #wearejustfriends”, “Kay, can I see you in the computer room for a minute #wearejust friends”. The jokes were so dry but they had fun while at it.
Wale and I hung out at least once in two weeks but we talked every day. He was the extrovert and I the opposite but for him I was always alive. I got to know a few things about him. He is 32 which is not bad to my 25. He is a goal getter, always pushing me to get things done. I told myself that I was the sail to his ship, helping him to catch wind and even propel him forward. I think that my freshness enthralled him. What I mean is that he said that I was unspoiled; not cold and calculating, loyal and he could team up with me easily and know I am in his corner. In my mind, he was becoming the perfect husband material and I was hoping that he was seeing that in me too because I was hooked; line and sinker.
After four months of these our go dancing and hanging out at places, I knew he had no inamorata hiding somewhere in a corner. At least I had the courage to ask one of those days.
He came over to Jade’s house to pick me one weekend. We were to go somewhere to sit and gist. While I waited for him, Jade and I had an argument about ‘what was going on’. She said the fact that I could not define my relationship with Wale was a red flag. I was like, ÿes, I like him but he has not said anything. She told me to be careful that I was in too deep and I didn’t have any inkling into what he really wanted from me. I was annoyed partly because she was telling the truth and because she was forcing me to see the reality of things. I was in a foul mood when Wale came. He noticed immediately and took it upon himself to cheer me up. We were supposed to go to watch a movie but he suggested dancing. The guy loves to hit the floor with some super skills.
He made me laugh and got me some drinks. I usually avoided alcohol but that day I just wanted to throw caution to the wind. He looked surprised when I asked for a glass of margarita. I had read about it a lot; it was only fair that I tasted it. I loved it. I asked for another one and probably more. I was so relaxed and calm. My usual nervousness in crowded places disappeared. I shouted greetings to a few of Wale’s friends who came our way. Wale was amused. At some point he asked if I was tipsy and I said no. Anyway, I was all clingy and everything.
Wale got a phone call from the CEO to get some details and we had to go to his house because he didn’t have the document on him. It was interesting being in his house. It was homely. I loved it. We decided to hang out at his place, there was no point going out again. He put on a movie on the massive TV in his bedroom; we cuddled and watched Queen of Katwe. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the content of the movie, especially the part about the sister who was dating a guy for financial security and got pregnant and dumped later in the movie. I could not get my mind away from his arms that held me close.
Anyway to cut this long story short, I woke up in his bed the morning after. Shame caught me, overtook me and overpowered me. I just dressed up and snuck out of the house leaving a very content looking Wale asleep with no clothes on. I checked my phone. Jade had called me frantically. I took a taxi and called her back.
When I got to her place, she knew. but she didn’t judge me. She was actually kinder to me, getting me something to eat. She watched me like a hawk. I felt like I was stripped of my glory. Me, omo mummy, I let myself get carried away and let ‘it’ go so easily as if it was a goodybag content. I went home that Saturday night.
My mother forced me to church the next day. I could not even lift up my head in church. The guilt ate at me and I was afraid that the world would end that very moment and all I could think about was I was doomed. What an experience!
Meanwhile Wale called me but I didn’t pick up so he came to the house to check up on me. He met my parents and we were left alone. I could see the uncertainty in his eyes, truth be told I had no idea what he thought about me. I summoned courage and channeled a Jade. I asked myself, what would Jade do? We chatted a bit, I loosened up and we talked round in circles until I hit the nail on the head.
I asked, “So, why are you here? To check my pulse about last night?”
“Yes, about that, I got the impression that you regretted what happened between us when I woke up and found you gone.”
“Look, I don’t do this type of thing. I’m not that kind of girl even though I was it for a moment last night.”
“I know. That’s why I am here today.”
“Can I ask you a question? Are you interested in me? ”
“Yes, sure, I like you.”
“What I mean is, am I someone that you can settle down with? Do you see me that way?”
Wale hesitated. “Listen Anu, we’ve been good friends and I want to keep this friendship. Obviously you regret what happened and I hate that you feel this way but we can both get beyond this.”
I just sat there looking stupid. This guy was obviously my senior in plenty matters. I was saying something and then he quickly channeled the whole discussion to another platform. Hmm.
“Listen, I understand that you feel guilty about what happened. It was obviously a first for you. I promise you that It would never happen again unless you expressly change your mind.” he moved closer to me, his large arms pulled me into an embrace. I melted.
“Even if you expressly change your mind I think I would just run away from you. I need to protect my virtue.” I smiled and pinched him.
He had to go but promised to call at night.
I quickly packed a bag and went to jade’s. I spilled everything to her and of course she first went into a fit of self-righteous speech on how she warned me and how her spirit knew something significant was going to happen. After all her drama, she sat me down and told me how young and naive I was. This girl is just a year older than I am but I agreed about my naivete. She was pissed that in all the issues at hand, I was focused on my guilt, how he dodged my questions and what the future would hold that I didn’t even think about the possibility of getting pregnant.
I froze in real time. This put my state of mind in another level. I was upset about the whole situation and angry with myself.
Jade advised me to just pray I wasn’t pregnant and then focus on getting my acts together. I couldn’t play the naive card anymore. I had to start showing some responsibility. I moved back home and just focused so intently on my work that my IT colleagues noticed. They commented and asked about my love interest and I would pretend that I didn’t know who they were talking about.
Wale tried to holler at me a few times at the office but I just blocked him out. I knew his schedule so I would just make sure I wasn’t available when he was free. He called a few times but he wasn’t getting the refreshingly easygoing person he had come to expect. Obviously he started to pull back and I just thought, well, that we should all count our losses and move on.I had learnt my lessons. I was wiser and I got busy in church and house. I would pray that God should have mercy on me and let me pass through this experience unscathed; meaning no pregnancy. I paid my tithe quickly and visited a number of elderly women who were widows also. I was on fire for the Lord. Even my mother commented that she had raised a praying daughter. I, Anu #omomummy#churchgirl #prayingdaughter#tither#workerinGod’svineyard was super scared and made about five promises to God only if he would deliver me.
The next month came and guess what? I entered prayer and fasting mode before I got some test kits. I bought the cheap ones and the expensive ones, all different products. After praying and fasting for a week, I went to pee on the sticks. The first cheap one showed two lines, second cheap one, the same thing. I opened the digital one and it told me how many weeks I was pregnant. Because I had been anxious for a while I wasn’t moved this time. I had used up my worry quota. I was about to become Anu Banks #babymama.
I called Wale ASAP and asked to see him. He didn’t show up on time and I got angry. When he did, I just took him to my room and showed him the sticks. He sat down and was quiet for a long time. I mean a long time. I had gone through scenarios of how the conversation could go. If he asked me what I wanted would I be able to say marriage? If he said that he would take care of the baby without me in the mix, what would be my response? What if he expressly refused to be tied down with a baby or its mama?
When he finally spoke, he said in a low voice “I think that the right thing to do is to protect this child.” I knew that he lived with his mom who was a single woman and so I understood where he was coming from when he made the statement but I didn’t understand the type of protection he was talking about. I wasn’t left wondering for long. “This is what we are going to do. We are going to inform our parents that we want to get married but we would not hide the baby factor.” my sunken heart elevated a little. If we got married quickly I could avoid telling my family about the baby; a task I dreaded.
“Are you sure about the marriage part? This is a life long commitment and I don’t want to tie you down when your heart is elsewhere and neither do I want to be caught up in a perpetual state of unhappiness, “I asked. I was trying to form #bigsgirls#icantakecareofmychildbymyself but it was not working. The marriage seed had been sown in my heart since I met Wale.
“I’m sure. We will work this out. Let me go home now. Tell me how it goes at your end. Break the news to them and I would meet with them the following day if they permit it,” he left. I sighed. This is a guy I respect so much and love, Wale Alade #MyMrRight #reponsibleguy #prolifeadvocate. I just worried about his very sober countenance. I am not that bad a person to marry. I am loyal, I have a degree and a job, I have some ambition, I am easy going, I put God first (don’t eye me, at least I go to God, first thing, middle thing or last thing), I have a great and supportive family (I counted on this so much) and I cook. My package was tight if I say so myself. It was just the naïve, JJC behavior I exhibit that implicated me.
I called jade, Bussy and, Ijeoma, my three closest friends and told them what was going on. Ijay was happy and said that I wouldn’t have to ever wonder if I could get pregnant. She didn’t see it as a big deal but my cousin and friend Bussy was all weepy and vexing and asking how I, Anu banks #virgintillmarriage #omomummy #churchgirl became Anu banks #disvirgined #impregnated and so on. Jade quickly intercepted her before she did damage to my psyche. She started preaching to her and telling her about how God was merciful and kind and who was she to pluck a speck out of my eyes and all that. She also said she believed that something good would come out of this situation. Anyway, all her demonstration calmed everyone down. We needed to strategize. They advised me on how best to break the news to my parents. I forgot to mention that I have a kid sister but she is really young while my two brothers were 29 and 27. All younger than Wale and they were not even in the country. I was on my own save for my life saving friends.
So that was how I gathered my parents together. I told them the bad news first. Better to get on with it.
“Is it that same boy that brings you home?” my Dad asked. I somehow expected them to be vicious and go all sanctimonious on me being a Deacon and Elder in church. He spoke softly and I could see that he was pained. I think I would have preferred the shouting and chastising. My mom just squeezed her mouth like Mrs. Coker in Wedding Party, eyeing me up and down. Sometimes I think Sola Sobowale and my mother grew up in the same neighbourhood because they just exhibit same kind of behavior; zest for life and everything.
Anyway, they were disappointed but they sha cannot be beating a 25 year old pregnant woman. Omo mummy had grown wings and flew away before they expected. I told them that he wanted to marry me. My dad asked, “Do you want to marry him?” and I was nodding my head like one type of bird my mother used to rain abuses on us, eiye ile subana, or something like that.
Meeting day came and went. Wale, his Mother and Parents met. Interestingly I did not for the life of me expect any hostility from his mother but somehow I could see her shooting daggers at me. Did I trap her son? Eventually, as planning took off we had some unspoken treaty. In a few weeks I grew up fast.
The whole planning was so surreal. Invitations came out sharply, hall and church was booked. Wale loved to put events together. I wondered if he would start up an event company of his own. Concerning church, I told the pastor myself that I was pregnant. The women in church said I couldn’t wear white, I laughed. I love ivory so much and I had picked something that would help hide the pregnancy.
At work, everyone had heard. “I knew it” my guys said. I just smiled. Wale and I were not meeting each other at work anymore except when he introduced me formally to the CEO as his bride to be. The treatment I got was fantastic. At home nko? My mother was into the society woman thing. She went all out for this wedding; the first one in the family. Everything was smooth sailing and I just thanked God that he had a hand it all of it.
The weekend of the wedding was approaching, I was busy as anything but I would take the time to call Wale and ask how he was doing. He was usually not his boisterous self. I felt as if the stress of the planning was getting to him. “Are you okay?” I asked, worried inside of me that he did not really want to get hooked to me. Yes I finally started to face some of my fears.
“Sure. Sure. I am just tired most of the time trying to combine work and the wedding preps.” He responded. The dynamics of our relationship had changed so many times in the past few months that I was not sure what level we stood anymore.
I was silent on my end and he asked, “is everything all right there? Are you worried about something?”
“Everything is just moving so fast and I hardly have time to catch my breath.” I said “the baby…”
“What’s wrong with the baby?”
“I am sure it’s nothing, I just feel funny at times but Bussy keeps saying it was probably just the symptoms you know. I have not been sick or anything but super exhausted most of the time.”
“You need to get a doctor to check you out.”
“But the wedding is this weekend, no time.”
“We can go to the hospital on Monday.” He said and I was silent. I figured no honeymoon for us. I shouldn’t wish for too much but every girl desires a honeymoon. Besides some people take it a year later or whenever they can. It is all about agreement.
As if he read my mind, Wale said, “Chief is sending us to the Seychelles for our honeymoon but we cannot go until the following weekend. This gives us time to get you some antenatal care. By the way, did you register at the hospital?”
“uhh, no I didn’t. I didn’t have the time.” Of course I did have time. I just didn’t want to run into any staff at the hospital.
“Anyway, Monday it is.”
“Do you feel as if everything is so fast? Are you comfortable with the idea of me?” I asked out of the blues.
He was quiet for a bit and said, “I think you should know that I snore really loud.” I laughed. “Me too,” I said and he was like “what? OMG, no! No! No!” I told him I was joking. After the light hearted moment, he suggested that we go to sleep and spend Friday together.
On Thursday before the wedding, I woke up to some annoying pain and I was bleeding. I had to go to the hospital. I went with Bussy, Ijay and Jade because we were supposed to go pick up their dresses. Jade was to be my maid of honor, Bussy was along to pick her younger sister’s dress and Ijay was a bridesmaid. Bussy was married and nursing a baby. At the hospital, the doctor said I had miscarried but there was no need for evacuation. After they attended to me, I told the girls and they freaked out. They delivered me to the house like a fragile toothpick. One Thursday night, I sent a text message to Wale to meet me at the Oasis restaurant.
Now that I have brought you up to date maybe you would understand my current dilemma. Today is Friday and tomorrow is my wedding day. Should I tell him or keep my mouth shut till after the wedding. Jade thinks I should tell him, Ijay thinks I should keep my mouth shut because the sole reason he was marrying me was the child and it was gone. Bussy obviously wanted me to tell him but she first descended on Ijay for saying that Wale was only marrying me for the baby. I think Ijay pinched where it hurt. Yes, he was marrying me because of the baby but I just assumed that he wanted me too or did not mind at all. Anyway, I am still here waiting for him to show up.
To be continued!
Read Say of Nay Part Two