Okay lovely Yarners. I’m on shift for comments today (as soon as I finish work, that is). Oga Dan will be very busy all day and night. Thanks for Saturday’s comments. I promise to respond to each one. Thank you so much.
Hope you are all doing well. How are the 2016 goals coming along? Not impressed with myself so far. Hope yours are coming along nicely.
Enjoy this really long episode. If anyone asks for a Thursday special … I swear…
//AND THINGS GET WORSE//
Kanyin ran her hands down her legs. They were cold. Despite pulling them together and sitting one on top of the other, they still felt cold. She put her hands to her face. They were clammy against her cheeks.
She was sitting by her stepmother’s hospital bed. Trying hard not to stare at the large bruise on her right hand or the jagged marks on one side of her face. The marks were like angry scratch marks. Anu had reassured her that they didn’t hurt. That her knees were in worse condition under the blanket but they too didn’t hurt.
Seeing the woman sat up in bed, typing on her new convertible laptop would surprise anyone that had seen her yesterday lying in the middle of the road. The middle aged woman whose car knocked her down said she appeared from nowhere. That she didn’t see her.
Austin had to call for an ambulance because her father who had crouched next to Anu didn’t seem to know what to do. He was mumbling. Stared blankly at her when she told him they had to get his wife to the hospital.
Austin had to take charge. He was the one that begged her twice to go back into the house. Someone had to stay with her sister.
Although, Anu’s eyes fluttered open before Kanyin went back inside the house and Austin told her she spoke to the ambulance crew, she couldn’t relax until her father called from the hospital to say her stepmother was fine. Cuts and bruises marked her body but no serious injury had been done.
“Thanks, princess.” Anu shut down the laptop and placed it next to her on the bed. “I feel better now that I have sent that email.”
“You do?” Minutes ago she had sat next to the woman as a sonographer told her, her baby’s heartbeat could not be found.
“Yes. I was letting everyone know that I’m returning to full-time work next Monday.” Anu placed her palms on her thighs and massaged them over the blanket.
“Isn’t it too soon? I know you are aching all over. You have recently miscarried. Don’t you need time or something?”
“Babies don’t always make it.”
“My father doesn’t even know yet.” Anu had refused to let him go in with her for the scan. Telling him to go jump off a cliff when he said he couldn’t let her go in on her own. Kanyin had volunteered at this point.
“I will tell him, don’t worry.”
“He is waiting in the visitors’ room. Should I send him in on my way home so you two can talk?”
“Yes. You might as well.”
“I will call you tonight. Or do you prefer I come round? Is there something you need?”
Anu shook her head. Her eyes were on her fingers which were placed at the top of her knees. She looked like a girl in denial. One refusing to accept something had been taken from her. Although she pulled her face defiantly and spoke with a voice reserved for their employees, Kanyin knew better.
“He is sorry you know.”
Anu straightened her neck when her husband came in. Her body felt worse than that time when she followed Uche to Zumba classes three nights in a row. She was glad for the pain. It helped her fight the one threatening to tear her apart. Yet, her heart didn’t feel right. It was beating too fast. During the night, she had felt this slicing pain in the middle of her heart. At first she thought it was something serious. Something medical, triggered by the blow dealt her yesterday. The tears came then. Gushing and forceful. Brought on by the realisation that losing Idriss would finish her.
She buried her head in the hospital pillow and cried. Afterwards, promises were made. The pillow, her witness. She would live. She would never need him or any other man again. The heels of independence that she wore before he came into her life would be dusted and strapped back on.
“I’m really… really sorry.” He had taken the seat that his daughter vacated earlier. Painted a remorseful look on his face, hands stretched out.
“I don’t need your apology.” She paused and looked out of the window. It was raining, wind blowing branches of the shady tree by the building, left and right. The other woman in her bay, a Polish woman with suspicious injuries to her face and a broken wrist had fallen asleep earlier. Moment after her husband – who brought chocolates and bore the same apologetic look as Idriss – left.
“I can fix this.”
“I can make it up to you, Aisha.” He stretched his legs in front of him. The chair was too small. It made him seem larger than he was.
“I know, Idriss.”
“I wanted to tell you the moment I found out. I tried, baby. But I had just gotten the real you back. Things were good. I didn’t want to lose you over a one night stand.”
“I know you are sorry…”
“I cross my heart.”
“… Which is why I will let you have joint custody of our daughter.”
Idriss’ hands dropped to his sides for a moment. His neck sank and his hands were soon cradling his head.
“I wish I can move on and pretend it didn’t happen. I wish the reminders of your recklessness are not living in this very town. I wish for a lot of things.”
He held her gaze.
“I want to wake up to find all this is nothing but a nightmare.”
“Don’t call me baby anymore. You have a young girl that fits that description now.”
“Kate means nothing to me. She is just the mother of my sons. Just their mother.”
“That should have been me.” She could feel tears gathering in the pocket of her eyes. Her throat croaked. “I was supposed to give you more children. Not another woman.”
He moved his seat closer.
“Don’t move any closer.” She would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her broken. Of holding her hand and acting like he hadn’t caused her pain.
“Don’t leave me, Aisha. We need each other. You have no one else apart from me. You are an orphan with no family in this country. I promised to look after you when your father said I could marry you. You must remember how happy he was when we said our vows.”
“I want a divorce. Then I want half of the agency. You can have the Manchester branch.”
“Splitting the company would kill our business. Don’t do this to us because of one stupid night.”
“There is no us anymore. I’d give anything not to have to see you ever again.”
“Haba …” he got up and shook his head. “Just admit this makes things easier for you. I cheated. Now you can run back to your ex who never really became an ex. This is the excuse you need to get back with that bastard…”
She stared at him as the remorseful face changed
“My friends were right. Allow a woman her freedom and she will make a mockery of your name.” He pointed at the bed. “You are the one in a hospital bed, I regret that. That doesn’t cancel out your actions. You are not innocent in all of these.” He smirked. “You are not getting half my business. Remember how smitten you were back then. So much so that when one of your white friends suggested a prenup to secure the business, you shut down the idea like a Robocop?”
“The business is legally half mine.”
“I know that. The court doesn’t.” He walked to the door; there he dropped a parting shot. “If you want anything from me, you can come back home.”
Anu was in Bradley’s car but every part of her was outside. They had been sat in the car for nearly two hours. Since the nurse-in-charge discharged her.
They were waiting for Kanyin. She had promised to bring Jadesola to her that morning when they spoke. Kanyin’s voice, although hushed held strong conviction.
“You sure she is coming?” Bradley asked. “What if her dad found out? Or perhaps she told him? You know she is his daughter and her allegiance will always be to him.”
“She will come.”
He seemed a little impatient than usual. Tapping on the steering wheel and following with his eyes, every car that drove into the hospital’s car park.
“Sorry Brad. I know you go to the gym every evening these days.”
Since his mother moved to Antigua with the man she met whilst there on holiday, Bradley had changed. Uche said it was because he lost Anu to Idriss. The impact of his loss toughened him up. Made him care more about things he didn’t care about before, like his cars, income and appearance. Uche said he wasn’t as kind anymore. That underneath all that transformation lay resentment which the slightest trigger could unleash one day.
“I’m here for you, chick.” He reached for her hands on her thighs and stroked them tenderly. “That bastard didn’t deserve you.”
“I wish I had listened to you.”
He was never in support of her relationship with Idriss or the eventual marriage. His clenched jawline and blue eyes showed his disapproval when she announced they were getting married.
When Idriss left the room, his eyes had probed her. ‘Are you sure you want to marry Mr. Idriss whose name has to be spelt with double s just to set him apart? Just in case we mistake him for Idris Elba or the other famous Idris’ out there. Sure you are wired for this? The man makes gangsta rappers look soft.’ She had loosened up then because he seemed to be doing his best to accept her decision, coating his concern in humour as he always did and because he told her he only ever wanted happiness for her.
She thought his words meant acceptance. And his acceptance remained unquestioned until that cold night last year in Paris at the spa hotel where the six of them were. Bradley and his then girlfriend Penny, Emeka, Uche, Idriss and herself were spending the weekend there to celebrate her birthday. That night, alone in a hotel room Bradley crossed boundaries with her.
Uche, the one she shared her secret with promised to guard it with her life. But now, she wondered if Uche had let something slip. This would explain why her marriage started to crumble like a sandcastle under a booted foot.
“You can move on now.” Bradley said. “You can do better. A lot better than that thug.”
She didn’t respond. Every time she thought of what her husband did to her, her chest throbbed and her stomach churned at the same time. This afternoon her heart started beating rapidly. She was splashing water on her face, thinking of how he loved to watch her whilst she washed her face at night when it happened. Suddenly, there didn’t seem to be enough air in the hospital bathroom. By the time she hobbled back on to the ward, trembling and gasping, her top had been drenched in her sweat. The nurse, convinced that it was a panic attack, wanted her to stay one more night at the hospital. Anu wanted to get on with her life. Show Idriss she could survive without him.
She shook her head. She would not think of him. Not now.
The screen of his phone cast some light on Bradley as he typed on it. His hands, neck and face showed his holiday in Antigua left a glow on him. He looked darker. Tanned. Perhaps it was because he had his expensive dark taupe suit on. His face wore a scowl that tended to be there these days like someone had painted it on. A result of the many relationships he embarked on recently that ended before they began.
“I wish you would stay here and fight it out with him. The business is half yours. You are entitled to it and half his money. We can take him to court. ” He tapped the screen of his phone and put the phone in his jacket’s pocket. “Running away will not solve anything. You will be punishing the people that care about you. Uche, your stepdaughter… me.”
“He will never give me half of the business. He would rather run it to the ground. His new business buddies are experts at hiding their assets from their wives and honestly… I don’t want his money. I only want my share of the business.”
She sighed. A deep sigh that drained her further. “I thought he would feel sorry enough to want to part on good terms but he doesn’t. He wants to fight me for the business because he can… Because I refuse to stay with him. I’m too tired to fight. I need to get away from here. Antigua, then maybe New York to live with my cousin. Somewhere where he can’t find me.”
“When will you come back? I know you have savings…”
“I don’t know. All I know is I need to get away from here. If Kanyinsola brings my daughter, I’m leaving this country tomorrow.”
“Taking Jade away from him will finish him. He deserves it if you ask me. I just wish you will stay, beautiful. I miss you too much when I don’t see you.”
She heard the sadness in his voice. Ignoring it, she asked him questions about the date he went on last week.
Bradley sighed and narrated his ordeal. It was another non-starter. His date had five children and six parrots and twelve dogs. But it was her out of control chattiness that made him consider escaping through the toilet window. She talked all through the starter, main meal and dessert. Even when they said their goodnight, on his way to his car, he could still hear her chirping away.
They were laughing together, hers a little forced, when Bradley spotted a silvery grey BMW X5 and told her. Anu’s eyes followed the car. Bayo had dropped Kanyin off with it once. That was how she knew what to expect when Kanyin told her Bayo would bring them to the hospital.
The moment before she saw the side of the car, she missed a breath. Idriss had found out and stopped them from bringing Jadesola.
Then she saw her head and she remembered how to draw in air. They got out of the car together but she reached the side of the BMW before Bradley did.
Whilst the girls hugged her, Bradley and Bayo took the bags out of the boot, to Bradley’s car.
“Sorry, we are late.” Kanyin zipped up her hood jacket and pushed her long, black Brazilian hair away from her face. “I had to wait for Daddy to go out. Then I had to trick Austin into going out to see his friends. You know how nerdy that boy is. It took him twenty minutes to get off the sofa.”
Jadesola who was now in her arms tapped her cheek. The girl always did this whilst others held her attention. Jabbing finger in her sides or parts of her body she could reach as if no one else was entitled to her attention.
“What is it, mummy?” Anu kissed her daughter’s forehead. She repeated the action to stop herself from thinking of him.
He was the one that nicknamed their daughter mummy. Jadesola had been his mother’s name.
“Wheres Dada,” Jadesola muttered.
Her gaze shifted quickly from her daughter to her stepdaughter. This proved hard too. Beyond Kanyin’s womanly yet slim body and her mannerisms, were features she recognised in her husband. Her lips were thinner, nose smaller. The luscious dark skin which stayed as soft as that of a newborn baby, the deep dimples and the way she held people’s gaze like she couldn’t let go were some of the features from Idriss.
She noticed that the girl had on the silver hoops earrings that she bought her last Christmas. Kanyin loved earrings and shoes and new hair styles. Most of her money went on this, leaving a fraction. Not uncommon for them to get a phone call in the middle of the month asking Anu or Idriss to bail her out.
She had chosen a side. Hers.
“The passports are in the smaller bag.” Kanyin ran a finger from the middle of her head to the side to sweep hair from her face. “You will be back soon, won’t you?”
Anu kissed her daughter’s head, patted her stepdaughter’s shoulder and started walking towards Bradley’s car. The men were in their respective cars now.
“Please, you have to come back.”
“I will,” Anu said.
“It will kill Daddy if you don’t come back. You know how much he loves Jade.”
Kanyin’s headache had worsened by the time they got to Bayo’s. Her head throbbed. Despite being a staunch advocate against painkillers or any kind of pills, she found herself accepting two big capsules from Bayo. She downed them with a glass of orange juice.
Stretching out on his sofa, she let him massage her feet and shut her eyes.
“You did the right thing,”
She shut her ears to him.
“Shortee, your father deserved this. Dude shit on his home himself.”
“I didn’t know Anu was planning to leave the country.” Kanyin raised her head to look into his eyes. “I thought she only wanted to see her for a few days. That she would bring her back. Now, Daddy has lost everything. He will never forgive me for this.” She paused to let the wave of sadness that gripped her pass, carrying on when it stayed stubbornly. “You don’t understand. No one gets it. Daddy is not perfect where his women are concerned yet he is the best dad in the whole wide world. He told me on my birthday that he regrets all those years that he wasn’t there for me. He says he will spend the rest of his life making it up to me. Now, he is going to lose my sister. If you say he deserves it, what about my sister. She will experience what it feels like not to have a dad around. Does she deserve it?”
She sat up to look for something to wipe her eyes. Bayo pulled her into his arms and the tears fell on the front of his tee-shirt. She sobbed on him. Too fraught to tell him that her little sister was more than life itself for her. Not seeing her again would wreck her.
They stayed like that for a while.
Soon she began to feel sleepy in his arms. It was an intense tiredness that took over quickly, the way she felt that evening when she tried red wine whilst out with Anu.
He caressed her cheek tenderly. “Sleep hotness. I will wake you soon and take you home. Your pops won’t blame you. We will get his friends to talk to him for you.”
When Kanyin woke up the room had been thrown into total darkness. It was the crushing weight on top of her that woke her up. And despite the weird numbness that made her limbs heavy and her vision blurry, she soon made out that it was Bayo’s legs between hers that was causing the pain in her pubic area. She told herself it wasn’t happening but her jeans were gone and his head was bobbing up and down.
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