Miriam’s Tale E8

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My ringing phone startled me out of my reverie, an unregistered number. I knew instinctively it was Emeka. This was confirmed when I answered the call and heard a familiar male voice say; “Hello”

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

“Hello” I responded.

“Am I speaking with Miriam Ikoku?” He asked.

“Yes, this is her, Miriam Okoro now.”

“I’m sorry, my bad. Susan told me you’re married now, I should have asked for your married name.” He apologised sincerely.

“It’s fine, I understand. I have girlfriends who still refer to me by my maiden name.”

“I’m relieved I’m not the only one who’s made such an error. This is Emeka, Susan gave me your number.”

“Hi Emeka, how are you?”

“I’m very well, and you?”

“I’m good.”

“Great. So, I’m back in town for a few weeks and I thought I’ll look you up.”

“That’s nice.”

“So how have you been, I heard you lost your husband about a year ago, accept my condolences.”

‘Thank you, God has been faithful.”

“You have kids, how many?”

“Two; Daniel is seven and Ada is two.”

‘Wonderful.”

“And you? Are you married?”

“Unfortunately, no. so how have you been coping?” He tried to change the subject back to me.

“Why haven’t you married yet?” I brought the discussion back to him. Since my husbands’ death, I had gotten weary of talking about ‘poor lil me’ . People need to give me a break and talk about something else.

He sighed. “Three years ago, I was engaged, she died. Road accident.” He replied quietly.

Immediately I felt bad for prying. He clearly wasn’t over it from the tone of his voice. “I’m sorry for your loss.” I whispered. Wait a minute, why were we whispering? I sat up in bed, we needed to ‘re-formalise’ (if there was a word like that) the discussion.

“It’s fine. Was a long time ago.”

“Ok. So, you just visiting, or?”

“I’m just visiting, been a while I’ve seen my folks.”

‘It’s really been a while. Twelve years?”

“Yeah. You have a good memory.” He chuckled. “Although my folks visited a few times.”

“Oh, ok.”

“I would love to see you Miriam, can I come visit you, it will give me a chance to see the city further.”

Huh? Come and visit me, why? After ‘uncle Pius’ visit, I’ve been wary of men visiting me at home. “Tell you what, I’m bringing my kids over to their grand-parents tomorrow, you can pop over then.” I quickly improvised, ignoring his offer to visit.

“Ok, that should work.” He replied after a while. “So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah, sure.” I agreed. Daniel and Ada were always up for a trip to their grand-parent’s.

**********

The next day, I doubt Daniel and Ada heard anything that was said in Sunday school. It had actually been a while since we had gone over to my parents, recently, it had been my parents coming over to ours. We drove straight over from church, they could barely contain their excitement, and my parents spoil them rotten.

Amebo Susan, immediately she saw us began to grin. She took in my dress and her grin widened.

“What?” I asked her.

“Nothing.” She replied in false innocence.

“Yeah right.” I muttered, passing her to go into the kitchen and help with lunch preparations.

“I like your dress.” She said following me.

“I like it too. I replied sarcastically.

She laughed. “Why are you grouchy?”

I ignored her.

“Aren’t you too old to be using your parents’ house as a cover to check out a guy?”

“Huh? Really?”

“Yes nau! He called you yesterday, and today, you’re here. Dragging my lovely neice and nephew along as a cover for your meeting.” She laughed longer.

Please can someone help with where I can return my younger sister!

Our doorbell rang. “Uuhhh!” She shivered excitedly. “Is that him?” She ran out of the kitchen to get the door. She returned a while later even more excited than when she left.

“He’s here!” She announced excitedly. She loosened the apron from behind. “Shoo! You can go.” She shooed me out of the kitchen.

I dashed to the bathroom and quickly looked myself over, passable. I wasn’t dressing up for nobody! I made my way to the siting room, I could hear their voices before I got there, Emeka was having a conversation with Daniel. I got to the living room door and stopped short in shock.

*****

I was plunged into that day many years ago. Emeka had returned to Nigeria for a brief vacation and I had greeted him with the news that I had a new boyfriend; Kenechukwu. He had been disappointed for when he was leaving for school we had childishly promised to wait for each other.  We had argued, then he had tried to convince me, and …….. Oh my God! It couldn’t be……

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Miriam’s Tale

Hi lovelies, I’ve missed you. It’s been very hectic for me recently, but, I’m back now. Today we begin a new series; Miriam’s Tale.

It’s a story/diary series about Miriam, young wife and mother to two kids who suddenly lost her husband. The series follows her struggles as a widow and single mother, the skeletons Which came out of the closet after her husbands death, and how she was able to get past it all. Enjoy and share.

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

The things adversity make us do……..

We either toughen like eggs in hot water, or soften like carrots. It’s at those times we remember the ability to adapt is one of the primary characteristics of humans. Then we take a good look at our environment; like a good look, not through rose-tinted or sunglasses, but a really good look, through microscopic lens. Everything looks new to us, it’s like: that day is the first day of the rest of our lives. Life is now divided into the before and after.

We become psychic, develop (or become more aware of) our extra senses, we now see beyond our noses. We take note of the fact that the Mama Nkechi’s only said ‘hi’ to us for two seconds today, whereas before the ‘adversity’, it was five to ten minutes of them asking about my entire lineage. But as the days rolled into weeks, they spent less time saying ‘hi’, until they began avoiding me, and next was pretending to not notice me. I don’t know what’s next, but I know it isn’t just her, the neighbours; it’s almost all my friends and acquaintances. They all avoid me and I don’t blame them. I would love to run away from me, right now. It really isn’t a good time being me; my husband died seven months ago, leaving me, jobless with our two kids.

My name is Miriam Okoro, and this is my story.

The beginning is always the best place to begin a tale, so I’ll go back and walk you through how I got to be at this point.

I met my husband while in my final year in university all those many years ago. I was that tall, slim chocolate beauty y’all want to be, lol. So I met him at a wedding. A friend’s brother’s wedding to be precise. My friend Ijeoma had asked me to help with serving her brother’s friends at the after-party at their parent’s house. You know how we used to do after-parties back in the day, where the couple’s friends will see them home after the reception, and the party will continue there.

So, it was at this party I met Ken.  Ken is/was the tall, dark and handsome dream of every living breathing female, the ones our mothers warn us against, but want us to bring home eventually. He made small talk with me every time I served him one of the numerous delicacies available that night, and I shyly responded. When he was leaving, he offered to take me home, and I replied that I lived just down the street and would walk home later. He insisted, and I acquiesced. He didn’t just take me home, he got my phone number as well.

On our first date, he told me he wanted to marry me. I was like; huh? Is that how they marry in your village? Lol! Ofcourse I didn’t believe him, and that cemented the fact in my mind that he was just one of the usual random predators. Ha! He thinks I’m a jjc? No o! I was born and bred in Lagos and I’m pako to the core. I did all the initial gra-gra I could, but all that was inconsequential when a few months into our relationship, I got pregnant.

I know, I know, don’t y’all be judging me and saying “upon all my forming of street smartness”, I know. Anyways, pregnant, all the forming disappeared. I was very grateful when he began the marriage process, in fact; to save myself and my family considerable shame, I might have begged him to marry me.

So, with pregnancy and marriage, I ended up having an extra year in the university, but the birth of my son Daniel made it worthwhile. When I finally graduated, it took another year for me to get posted for my NYSC (shout-out to the Nigerian system). By the time I went for Service, I was pregnant with baby number two. With a lot of stress and strain on my part, I struggled through my service year.

Ken, myself, and our two kids were the picture perfect family (so I thought). We lived in a 3-bedroom flat in an upscale part of town, we had a nice car, and could afford a budget holiday outside the country, you know all those perks that placed us in the upper middle class range. I wasn’t working yet because we had agreed that I wouldn’t until the kids were older and in school.

Then calamity struck. That day dawned like every other day. It was a Saturday; Ken had travelled the day before to Abuja where his parents resided to see them. Ken was such a good person, father, son, husband; he covered all his bases very well, so very well. I spoke with Ken that morning, he called to find out how we were faring, Sara had a slight fever the day before, I had given her a mild analgesic, and maybe she was teething, because I could sense she was more irritated than ill. Poor baby, at two years, she couldn’t yet express herself succinctly, unlike her brother Dan; that one was a born broadcaster.

You know how it goes in all those Nollywood movies, when they dramatize relaying the news of a dead loved one that was my story. That afternoon, his younger brother came around, and in a short while his uncle was at our house too, there I was, attending to my in-laws like a good African wife. Their brother wasn’t in town, wonder how they didn’t know that. Anyways, not my business.

Pastor and Mrs B our friendly middle-aged neighbours came over, and in my mind, I was like; ok, this is getting to be a party. Looking back, I’d like to think the conversation was stilted, or that they were cues, but I didn’t notice anything off.  Jude; my husband’s brother had lived with us for a while after school, before he got a job and moved out on his own, and as such he knew the B’s. It wasn’t until the B’s first daughter, Funmi came over and invited my kids over to their apartment for ice-cream did I guess something was wrong. I informed her that their uncle had brought them some ice-cream which they had just had and as such they couldn’t have any more for the day, when Mrs B and Uncle Francis simultaneously said I should let them go with Funmi. I immediately got goose bumps. I knew then something was wrong, they had bad news and needed the kids out of the way to break it to me.

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Second Chances E2

……….“You are beautiful.” Kunle murmured.

She blushed beneath her dark skin and took a nervous sip of water.

She cleared her throat, and made to continue, but he stopped her by speaking first.

“I want you to be this passionate when you talk about me. I want to be more than just a business associate, I want more.”

“You are already more than a business associate, we are friends.” She replied, increasingly getting uncomfortable at the line of discussion.

“Yes, but I want to be more than friends. I love you Deola, and I want to be with you, I want us to get married, it’s been months now since you asked for time and everyday it’s been torture. I……”

“Are you okay?” Deola snapped at Kunle, suddenly angry, why was Kunle putting her on the spot like this?  “Like, really Kunle can’t you see what a relationship with me would do to you?

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“Really Deola, do you think the world is standing still waiting for you to miss-step? You were last years’ news, we’ve all moved on, you should as well.”

In Deola’s heart, she knew Kunle’s words hadn’t been meant as cruel, and were to cause her to move on, emotionally. But hearing herself being referred to as last years’ news just infuriated her more.

She got up, grabbed her bag and walked out of the restaurant.

When Deola walked out on him, Kunle was immobilized for a few seconds. What was happening here? How did what he’d meant as a proposal go this bad?

What had he said that had her running away?

He got up and went after her. She wasn’t outside, and he drove them to the restaurant so she wasn’t with her car. Which meant she had taken a cab. He looked at the taxi stand beside the restaurant and felt like screaming in frustration.

He quickly dialed her number, hoping she would answer her call. It rang out, she didn’t pick, he redialed, same thing. On the third dial, he got a switched off response. His frustrations increased. He ran to the car park and got into his car. Kunle took a moment to calm himself. He was an advocate of safe driving, and knew it won’t do him any good to get on the road in his present mood. It was early evening; the evening rush. Besides, it was unwise to take on Lagos roads in an unclear state of mind.

He drove to Deola’s shop first, thinking she was going to pick up her car before heading home. It was locked, and no one was in her car. He beckoned on one of the security men and enquired if she had returned to the building. The guard denied seeing her that evening, and said he was sure no one was in her shop.

He tried her number again, still switched off. He drove to her house.

The gate-man hailed him immediately he stopped, and asked if he should open the gate for him to drive in. he declined and asked if Deola was back. The gate-man affirmed that she just got back.

Kunle parked his car outside and walked in. Their front door was ajar and he pushed it open. Mrs Lasisi came into the sitting room to see who it was who came in.

“Good evening ma.” He greeted her prostrating as Yoruba culture dictates.

“Kunle how are you?” She responded, her eyes questioning. Deola had come home a few minutes ago distraught, and all her enquiries had been met with a stoic; “I’m fine.” And now here was Kunle on her heals, looking troubled.

“Ma, is Deola in?’ He enquired politely.

“Yes she is, and I’m sure you know she’s in. what’s going on, what’s the problem?”

“I would like to talk to her, there’s been, I think a misunderstanding.”

Deola’s mom sighed, and sat in her favorite chair in front of the TV. Children of this generation and their drama! She waved him in. “She won’t talk to me, maybe she would talk to you.“

“Thank you ma.” He hurried to Deola’s room. The door was locked. He knocked, no response. Deola’s mom heard him knocking and she guessed Deola must have locked the door. She laughed, amused by the drama. She joined Kunle at Deola’s door and called to Deola.

Deola replied her from the other side. “Mommy I’m fine, I just want to sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.”

Her mom knew when Deola was in such a mood she won’t listen to reason, so she beckoned on Kunle to follow her. In the living room, she turned to him and said: “My dear, I don’t know what the problem is, but I will find out. Go, I’ll try to ensure she talks to you tomorrow.”

Kunle hesitated. He didn’t want to leave things between himself and Deola the way it was. A night was a very long time, and he had scheduled early morning meetings. Which meant the earliest he would see Deola was midday tomorrow, if she agreed to see him.

Mrs Lasisi sensed his hesitation, and asked: “Is it something you would like to talk about?”

He was tempted, so very tempted to discuss it with Deola’s mom, to seek counsel if he was being too forward, asking wrongly or wrong in asking. He loved Deola and while she was with Senator Briggs, he had ignored his feelings for her, but when the scandal broke and Deola ended the relationship, he had felt renewed hope and waited all this mnths for Deola to begin living again. To open her eyes and heart to him. But he knew Deola, discussing her with her mother would only infuriate her further. “I have to discuss it with Deola first.” He replied.

“Ok. I’ll talk to her.” Her mom promised.

He thanked her and left with a heavy heart.

*********

Deola sighed in relief and sadness when she heard Kunle leave. On one hand she was relieved he was gone, she hadn’t want to speak with him tonight, lest she say something that would destroy their professional and personal relationship.

On the other hand, she was sad he was gone. Truth be told, she loved Kunle, and were she a different person, with a different history, she would gladly be with him. But she was bound by the mistakes she had made, she had stupidly gone into a relationship with an un-suitable person thinking she was in love.  Now there was scandal attached to her name and she loved Kunle too much to drag him into her scandal. For if the press were to get a whiff of a relationship between herself and Kunle, it was going to be scandal all over again.

She hurt emotionally. She was so sad she couldn’t even shed tears. Whoever said the evil man does lives after him got it wrong, she was living with the repercussions of her transgression. What she wouldn’t give to erase the last few years! To start afresh, with the wisdom not to get involved with a married man.

She thought of calling Chima, but decided against it. Chima was sure to rush to her side, neglecting her fiancé, which wasn’t what Deola wanted. No sense in others being unhappy because of her own foolishness.

She got up off the bed to undress and prepare for bed, although she knew sleep would evade her. She heard her mom’s footsteps stop in front of her door. She froze, not wanting to make any sound and alert her mother to the fact that she was awake. A few seconds later, her mom walked on to her own room and Deola sighed in relief. She wasn’t emotionally prepared for her mom’s inquisition. She just wanted to be left alone to mourn her lost opportunities in peace. Hopefully, tomorrow would be a better day.

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