“Lara, will you marry me?” Femi asked on his knees.
As Lara looked at him down on his knees, she was suddenly very sad, and weary, her head began to ache. Ten years ago this question would have been met with a happy ‘yes’, or perhaps if he were asking because he really wanted her, her answer might have been positive. During the course of her relationship with Femi she had learnt how to read him accurately, and she didn’t like what she saw.
“Get up off that floor Femi.” She said to him, she turned to her friends “Please excuse us ladies, Femi and I need to talk.”
The very curious ladies left the room, off course to eavesdrop at the door. Lara waved Femi to sit, and she also sat, sitting directly opposite him.
“From your behavior and demeanor I’m guessing the answer to my request is a ‘no’?” Femi said after a few minutes of silence.
Lara sighed deeply. “What are we doing Femi? Why are we behaving like two children? You are behaving like a child who suddenly remembered a toy when another child showed interest in the toy. You only asked me to marry you because of Smith’s interest in me.” Lara said quietly.
“I admit Smith was a kind of wake-up call for me. I always assumed you and I will marry in the future. I always took that as a given. You are the mother of my child, I don’t want to loose you or my daughter.”
“What kind of marriage will we have? Cross continental?”
“Its possible Lara.”
“I think now is a good time for you to ask me what I want, or don’t I count?”
“I know you want marriage.”
“That was ten years ago!” Lara cried. “Then I was willing to follow you to the ends of the earth, not now. This proposal is ten years too late.”
“No it isn’t. I still feel for you what I did then.
“Which is or was what?”
Femi stared at her open mouthed.
“You see, you can’t even put into words what you supposedly feel for me.” She gestured with her hands to signify nothing. “Femi, we need to stop all these theatrics. What we had was in the past, and we have a beautiful intelligent daughter, let’s leave it at that.”
They both stared blankly, lost in thought.
“Are you going to marry Smith?” Femi asked after a while.
“I don’t know. If I do marry him or any other, you will be amongst the first to know.”
“Are you saying there is absolutely no hope for us? We could start afresh, rediscover each other.” Femi pleaded holding her gaze.
“To what end? I’ve been alone long enough, if I get married, it has to be a full time marriage.”
“We could find ways of compromise…”
“Unless you are willing to move.”
“Perhaps I could. Let’s think on this. Have lunch with me tomorrow. Just us, we’ll go somewhere neutral and talk. Ireti can have lunch with my mom.”
“Ok. I feel the onset of a migraine. Tomorrow.”
He got up, walked over to her and pecked her on the cheek before letting himself out.
No sooner had he shut the door behind him, Chichi and Titi burst into the sitting room. Both talking excitedly. Lara got up. “I’m going to lie down, you girls discuss this and give me the summary in an hour when I wake.” She left the room. Both ladies stared after her in surprise and made to follow her. She anticipated this and turned back to them.
“I really have a headache I would like to sleep off. One hour.” She sounded near tears.
“Are you ok?” Chichi asked concerned.
“I will be. One hour.” Lara reiterated as she left them. She shut her bedroom door, shutting them out and let loose the tears.
“Your father asked me to marry him.” Lara broke the news to Ireti while they were watching Tv later that evening.
They were both curled up in the same chair in their night wear, their favorite soap had just finished showing.
“Grandma told me he was going to ask you. She said he asked her.” Ireti replied.
“And how do you feel about it?”
“I don’t know, do you want to marry him?”
Lara exhaled loudly. “I don’t know, but I don’t want to do anything you are not comfortable with. Do you want me to marry him?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t you want the complete family; mother, father and child?” Lara asked carefully.
“It wouldn’t really be that, shey you said, he said he can’t take us back with him? Either way it will still be us both.”
“Would you like to go and live with him?”
“He only talked about holidays, not permanently.”
“Ok, basically, what I’m asking is how you feel about me marrying or not marrying your father. Or anyone else.” She added.
“I don’t know, Grandma said you should get married so I will have a father, but I don’t really know. I don’t miss having a father because I’ve never really had one. But I want you to do what makes you happy.”
Lara stared at Ireti, amazed at the child’s wisdom. “How did you get to be so smart?”
“I’m the smarter version of you remember?” Ireti got up. “I’m going to get some water, you want some?”
As Ireti left the room, Lara was lost in thought, thinking on the best course of action.
Lara met Femi at the restaurant the next day, she was happy the extra effort she put into dressing chic wasn’t wasted as the restaurant was an upscale one. A waiter handed them menus.
“Talk of the devil and he will appear, I just got off the phone with your wife.”
Lara looked up to see whom the foreign accent belonged to and whom she was speaking to. The woman who just spoke was standing beside Femi and speaking to him.
“Hello Femi, I was very suprised when Sheila told me you were in Nigeria. I mean, how can you leave your seven month pregnant wife and travel to Nigeria, what’s the emergency?”
“Hello Bisi, what a surprise.” He stood up, very uncomfortable, he wished he could just disappear, of all people to run into it had to be loud mouthed Bisi.
“Yea, a cousin of mine is getting married next weekend. My hubby and I just flew in yesterday, and fancy running into you.”
“Ehm, Lara meet Bisi, Bisi meet Lara, my…..”
“Oh you are the sister! Femi’s sister. Its a pleasure to meet you.” Bisi gushed. “How is your little girl? Femi talks about her all the time.”