PLAYING THE LOVE GAME =TWENTY TWO

Playing The Love Game

I thought I was going to be producing the final part today. Nearly there, please bear with me. If we had our way, you will be reading PTLG The Final Part today. Unfortunately, things don’t always work the way we want.

The final part is too long, so here is the first part or episode twenty two, whatever you want to call it. The series will officially conclude on Thursday, can’t wait.

Thanks to those that left comments and the messages, we appreciate. I have had a very busy week or else I would have gotten to the comments by now.

Wherever you will be today –owambe, wedding, party, work, shopping mall, cooking for the in-laws, chilling or footie (let’s not forget the two or three men reading PTLG), have fun.

Till Thursday, stay blessed.

 

 

***     ***    ***

He had been at the bottom of the road leading to Borrington Park for a while when he saw a white SUV drive past him. As the car came down the road, he felt his knuckles grip the steering wheel tight.

What was he thinking?

Ikumapayi was right. Bayo would not let him get close enough. If he did, surely that should indicate that there were snipers planted at different corners of the park ready to take him down.

He thought of the bag of money in his boot. Cleverly placed on top of the rifle bag.

He wanted Bayo dead. He wanted him to know death was coming for him and feel the kind of incomparable fear that gripped the strongest at that stage. The agony. Dread. Not knowing what would become of their loved ones. Except, Bayo didn’t have loved ones.

What he had instead were people wishing he never existed. People like Emeka’s parents, who were not supposed to bury their son. People like him who couldn’t fathom why he did what he did to Kanyin. Why he targeted kind-hearted Emeka.

He wasn’t sure he could kill anyone having seen the look that crept into the eyes of the teenager that struck the machete-blow that killed his father. As the lad was dragged away by   balaclava-wearing fellow criminals, his face bore this overwhelming dread that he had never been able to forget. He thought about him sometimes. Although, feeling sorry for the lad was more of a recent thing. Feeling that those men with him were the guilty ones. Along with the society with people, who casually walked past starving youngsters and placed priority over institutions like marriage and religion rather than its vulnerable people.

He couldn’t kill Bayo.

What he wanted instead was to ask him questions. Why Kanyin? Why Emeka?

As the SUV came closer, he abandoned his thoughts. Kam was in the car with a fair skinned, black man in police uniform driving. When the car stopped in front of his and Kam came out of it, he promised never to ignore Ikumapayi’s phone calls ever again. But even as Kam got in his car with an uncharacteristic frown on his face, he hoped that the detective and his uniformed friend were after him for another reason. That Kanyin had gotten Austin arrested for staring at her for instance. Not because Ikumapayi called the police and reported him.

“Your friend is driving around looking for you,” Kam said. “I figured if Bayo wants to meet you, it will be in a secluded place like Borrington Park.”

“So, you and Iku are best friends now, are you?” He asked without looking at him. Since when did his friend align himself with law enforcement agents?

“He got my number from Uche. Remember Uche, the one that had to stay with your wife.”

“Are you going to arrest me?”

“Why? What’s the point? It’s a bloody shrink you need to examine your head.”

“I just want to face Bayo. I want to ask him why.” He looked at him now. Restrained himself from slapping the steering wheel.

“Please, tell me you are drunk. People like him don’t reason like normal people. Normal people like your friend and I. Excuse me, I can’t exactly call you normal. Not when you are risking getting shot or prison.”

“He is threatening to send his friends to Kanyin. He can do that from prison if you guys arrest him and put him in one of those luxury jails. He can order someone to do it.”

“If he gets a phone.”

“There will be plenty petty criminals ready to borrow him a phone or do the job themselves.” He felt like shouting at Kam, to tell him to listen. What would he do if the roles were reversed and his family were the ones that needed protecting?

“What about your kids? How do you think they will cope seeing you locked up? That’s what will happen if Bayo puts up a fight and you lose your temper.”

“They will understand.”

“What about your wife?”

He didn’t have anything to say to this. Kam seemed to know him well. Thinking of what would happen to Anu nearly kept him at the hospital.

“If you get sent down, we both know she will be pissed with you. She will bring the house down. But because she is as crazy as you, she will probably wait for you. She will think she is strong enough to go it alone. You will be fine until you have to watch her visit you in prison and say tearful goodbyes every time.”

“Okay, I get it,” he scoffed. “Are you going to arrest me?”

“What for?” Kam shook his head. “Tell me everything Bayo told you on the phone. Then I want you to go home and get rid of what you have in your boot. Don’t try this again. I don’t do second chances.”

“Don’t you want me to come to the park with you?”

“No. I don’t trust you. Besides, I have eyes at the park right now. They will let me know if Bayo shows up. Go and be with your family.”

 

***

Whilst his daughters and Austin slept, he paced his living room floor. Knowing that there were police men situated in front of the house in case Bayo turned up did not help him.

He was asleep on the sofa when Kam came to the house and informed him Bayo did not come to the park yesterday evening.

“I told you he is too smart for you guys.” He led him into the kitchen, hoping cups of machine-brewed coffee would clear his head’s haziness.

“He is smart,” Kam agreed.

“Sure thing.”

“So smart that his mutilated body is currently lying on the slab right now.”

“What?” He dropped the jar of coffee back on the table. “Bayo is dead?”

Very dead. Body disfigured like they wanted him to suffer. His toes, fingers and ears… I believe were found a mile away from where the body was dumped.”

“Pete did it. Right?”

“Hazard guess. Who else would like to punish him like that?”

He felt like hugging Kam and shouting for his daughters. He should be celebrating but at the same time he didn’t feel triumphant. The harm that Bayo did to Kanyin, his friends and family would forever haunt him.

“After what he did to Pete’s daughter, I think he deserved it. Be happy, Id. Make me that coffee, I need to get back to work.”

 

***

Uche tried to sneak into the house quietly, having seen Kam’s car outside. She didn’t return the men’s greetings. She rushed through the instructions Anu had given her about the laundry she brought home for her.

“She wants me to bring her pyjamas and dressing gown to the hospital,” Uche concentrated on Idriss’ face and ignored Kam.

“I’m going down to see her soon. Let me take her stuff down for her.”

“No thongs or anything like that.”

“Okay, babe. I know. How is she?”

“She is fine. As long as you don’t do your disappearing act again.” Keeping what Ikumapayi told her about his whereabouts from Anu yesterday was excruciating.

It wasn’t having to rub Anu’s back that made it unbearable. There were the other things –Ikumapayi giving up on him, something totally unexpected. Idriss’ lack of insight, making decisions that teenagers wouldn’t make.

“I will make you coffee. Sit down.” He got up, hurried out of the room and locked the conservatory door.

“What is he doing?” Uche placed the bags she had on the table.

“I think he wants us to talk,” Kam said.

He stood up and walked over to her quickly. She put her hands out when he tried to hug her. Tired from it all, she craved the peaceful life she lived before men.

“I missed you, Uche.”

“Really?”

“I have been busy with work…”

“Not too busy to see your ex though.” She tapped his chest as he stared at her. “I saw her coming out of your house. I saw you kiss her cheek. I hope you have a nice life together.”

“She turned up out of the blue. And you and I were not exactly on talking terms.”

“So, you thought it was okay to cheat on me?”

“I don’t cheat.”

His phone was ringing. It had started raining outside. Jadesola and Kanyin’s voices were going on about something she couldn’t pick up. Yet, Kam’s gaze did not shift from hers.

“We can go for dinner tomorrow evening. Please Uche. We can talk then. I can tell you all you need to know.”

She wanted to ask why they couldn’t have dinner tonight.  If he was seeing Flo, instead. She wanted to ask him if he loved Flo but he had pulled her into his arms.

Moments later when he apologised that he had to leave for work, all she could think of was that he hadn’t kissed her.

***

Kanyin sidled in beside her father and Jadesola and stroked his hand to wake him up. She pulled back immediately. They had fallen asleep together when they came back from visiting Anu at the hospital.

She decided to capture their perfect stillness. Father and daughter together. Eyelashes fussed together in closure. Content faces.

They were once this close. Jadesola refusing her evening meal at times, thinking this would make him come back home early. It wasn’t until their family problems that she started to demand ice cream for every hug he asked for.

“Jadesola is the one that woke you with her snoring.” She giggled when her father opened his eyes.

“I believe you.”

He grinned and corked his head nearer Jadesola as Kanyin took a picture with her phone. She took a few before pocketing her phone. It had started raining outside again. Summer had shifted for this cooler air that made her want to snuggle really close to them.

“I have decided to postpone my travel plans,” she said. “Anu will need us all around her. Emeka’s mother will understand.”

“Aisha is fine. You should have seen her at the hospital giving me a list of what to do around the house. She will be back tomorrow, Ireti mi.”

“I want to stay here. For now.”

“Whatever you want.”

“I love you, Daddy.”

He was saying it back, closing his eyes at the same time when she went upstairs to find Austin. She loved the weightlessness around her shoulders. The return of her appetite. The swiftness of her legs.

Finding out about Bayo’s death left her with this overwhelming emotion she couldn’t name.

But it didn’t last long.

She cried. Not because she felt sad. But because as she read the news report compiled about him and when they named the atrocities and gang violence linked to him, she realised that Emeka and Anu were right. What happened that night was not her fault.

Austin’s hands paused around the top button of his shirt when he saw her. He had just returned from Aspire in Manchester, bearing that after-work glow she had come to slightly resent.

His laundered suits were on top of his sports bag by the window. Her father had asked him to come back to the house yesterday.

“I love you, Austin,” She told him before he could say anything. “If I was ready for a relationship, I’d jump in with you.”

“Kanyinsola…”

“Don’t say anything. Just say you are not angry with me. Say we can still be friends.”

Aah ah, don’t kill me. You are declaring your love when the hunger that is killing me came with weapons of mass destruction.”

“Did you not go out for lunch?”

“I went with Kaz and James joor. I didn’t want to start behaving like a stark illiterate at the rich people restaurant we went to. They ordered tasteless salad that came with the tiniest meat I have ever seen in my life. In fact the buka I used to go to back home would have given you something bigger for one naira. I was hungrier on the way out than when we went in.”

She was laughing when he pulled her to himself gently. “Where do you even put it?”

“You have not seen my big shoulders.” He flexed one of his arms. “Let me show you.”

“You can show me. When Daddy comes upstairs, you can explain why you are showing me stuff.”

He let go of her and sat on his bed. Patted the spot next to him. “Daddy’s girl. He still dey follow me with his eyes o. You better hope I don’t wake up to find him holding a koboko over my body one of these days.”

“He won’t. I will tell him we are cool now.”

“So, we are cool?”

“Very cool.”

“Thanks.” He picked up his laptop from the rug and gestured for her to come over. “Just to show you how much I love you, I have been researching how you can go back to uni and still graduate the same time as your year. Come, sit with me.”

He didn’t lean close to her when she sat next to him. He concentrated on the screen in front of him, telling her how easy it would be for her to return to her course. His gaze did not linger. But she knew why he searched for words. Why his explanations were not as eloquent. She knew too that she liked seeing him like this.

 

***

Anu’s hands were shaking as she hooked her phone to the charger. She settled back in bed and wished she had put the phone down when she heard Refiloe’s voice.

Refiloe told her how her husband planned to kidnap and torture Bayo. She wished she didn’t laugh and she had stopped laughing when Refiloe informed her, Idriss was at the flat with Uche an hour ago. She had heard him begging Uche not to say anything about what he planned to do.

“See, your marriage is a joke,” Refiloe concluded.

Idriss had gone to see Uche not long ago. He had left the hospital unexpectedly too. Something about a work emergency.

“Hey baby,” Idriss came into the room with a bowl of ice cream. “Did you miss me?”

She pointed at the table. “I’m not ready for it yet. Please tell me more about that night at the hospital. Refiloe was on the phone with me just now. She heard you at Uche’s.”

“Heard me saying what?” He placed the bowl on the table, sat next to her with the bearing of an innocent man. “That woman is a crazy stalker.”

“Tell me the truth. Please. No more lies.”

His voice quavered during his hurried explanation once. Yet, he narrowed his eyes when she started to get upset.

“Baby, it isn’t like Refiloe is painting it. No harm done.”

“No harm done? Of course no harm done.”

“Good. I’m very sorry, baby.” He kissed her cheek and left for the bathroom.

No harm done. How could he understand?

She was the one who received the long looks from people present at Emeka’s ceremony. The recipient of an unexpected, “I will pray for you comment”, at church from the deacon’s assistant, Kaley Bradshaw. She saw her and Idriss dropping off the twins at Kate’s house and in that offensive, snooping manner of hers decided that the children had to be her husband’s because of their black, curly hair.

The one that did most of the accepting. Picking up his sons from Kate’s, feeding them and wiping their noses had become things she didn’t question. Mothering duties, she called them. She wondered now if he could have wiped her child’s nose. If he could have pushed the kid in its pram and accept the long looks from people. The way people often looked at her. Women that were strangers to her. Looking at her. Not him. As if trying to pass on a message that she was weak for accepting his betrayal and forgiving him.

And the women with smiling faces, especially the elderly Jamaican woman who nodded at her and said God bless you child, she sometimes wanted to tell, not to praise her efforts. To her, only weak wives stayed and forgave. Women with low self esteem.

“Continue to be a good wife,” Chief Agbaje told her last Monday. “A good wife knows how to keep her home. Don’t give him an excuse to bring any more bastards home.” She had to concentrate on Jadesola bobbing her head to a Frozen song and forget she had her phone to her ear to stop her from saying something rude. Something about how men like him and her husband were responsible also for keeping their homes.

“What about you and the way you shut me out?” Her husband asked her when he came out of the bathroom and noticed her countenance. “Shebi, I have said sorry.”

“I have already apologised for the way I was after Dad passed.”

“I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the way you keep things from me. We made a promise to talk to each other, didn’t we?” He started to walk towards the door.

“If you are talking about the baby, what do you expect? See what you did when you found out. You hired a gun. You reacted as usual without thinking. How can you not see the danger you put us all in every time you react. You think I’m sleeping with Brad, you impregnate the first girl you could find. I cheat on you because I’m angry, you get it on with Refiloye. Emeka and our baby are taken from us and instead of staying with me or our girls, you tried to play cop. You could have been killed. Why don’t you ever stop and think?” She stopped when he came closer and growled. She had collapsed on the bed and started crying when he started to speak.

“I wish you wouldn’t keep me in the dark, baby. You blame me. Yes, I know I’m at fault. You shouldn’t act as if you are innocent. You don’t trust me. You keep me in the dark.”

“I was in the dark too. I didn’t know the baby was yours. I had tiny doubts but it was finding my old diary the other day that made me go back to my cycles to calculate the dates. The truth is, I don’t actually know for sure. So when the cramping started, I wanted to protect you from the hurt. How could I have dropped that on you?”

“I could have coped.”

“You were not coping already. Or do you call running away from home coping?”

“I would never have gone anywhere near Refiloe.”

“I know that now. It was silly of me to think you had. Honestly, I don’t know where this insecurity has come from.”

He wiped her tears with his palms and kissed her forehead. “I love you so much. I just don’t know how to truly love someone. I don’t know how to stop myself from doing these things either.” He sighed, “Iku said I have hope. With old age comes wisdom and patience.”

“I don’t know how much of this I can take.” She had been surprised when the nurses at the hospital told her she didn’t sleepwalk. She had expected to. Having told the nurses, they were prepared for it.

In the morning, when they told her she slept peacefully, it made her wonder if the state of her marriage affected her more than she thought. Her sleepwalking had been occasional before she got with her husband.

“I will be a better man.”

“You have made this promise before.” She wrapped her hands around her chest. “I’m not blaming you for how we ended up where we are. I’m just thinking of what happens when you suspect another affair. What if you impregnate one of Jadesola’s college friends? What if I’m too old to throw you out? What if my heart fails and I end up dead in my forties?”

She was overwhelmed by her tiredness. Stretching out on the bed did not soothe her. She turned her back to him and prayed for sleep.

***

He woke to find himself alone in bed. The room was dark, the house as silent as it often was in the middle of the night. His wife wasn’t in the room with him. Her slippers were on the floor by the ajar door.

He climbed off the bed immediately and shouted for her. Something was wrong. Anu hated going downstairs without her slippers on.

Downstairs, the front door had been unlocked, key left in the keyhole. He told Austin to call the police and Kanyin to check the rooms upstairs when they came downstairs. Checking the garden, shed and conservatory, he decided to drive down the street, even before Kanyin joined him in the hallway with a worried expression.

“Did you cheat on her again?” Kanyin asked. “I heard you two shouting at each other earlier.”

“Not now.”

“She doesn’t deserve this, Daddy.”

“Help Austin with the call. Ring Kam also. Help me find her and we can chat later. She could be on the main road sleepwalking right now.”

“If we find her, please do the right thing. Let her go, Daddy. Love is not supposed to be like this.”

 

 

CONTINUES ON THURSDAY

 

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27 thoughts on “PLAYING THE LOVE GAME =TWENTY TWO

  1. Ok so this is officially my first post...PTLG...sensational..now I don't know if I should read the remaining part or just keep my sanity..Great work...

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    1. Did you read the whole episode or are you planning to wait until Thursday? Lol.
      Thank you so much for leaving your first comment. We love seeing first comments. Thanks again.Have a blessed week.

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  2. Yes, Kanyin is right! Love shouldn't be forced, I hope they all find peace... Is there going to be a continuation After thursday's episode? Something like "Enjoying the love game" lol! Just joking... God bless you Jumzo dearie, God bless Aideyarn crew...

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    1. Hehehe.
      I know what you mean.
      Seeing as PTLG wasn't as light as people expected, the way its title suggested...
      Stay with us (That's all I can say for now)

      Have a fabulous week and God bless you too.
      Big hugs your way.

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    1. She does.
      Good to see your comment this weekend, Nnenna.
      Hopefully see you Thursday.

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  3. Okay, I had to comment for the first time.
    This is an amazing story. Ups and downs toooooo real.
    And in life, we make mistakes, we forgive, we make more mistakes, we forgive more. I think. What's life without ups and downs? Again, I only know so little.
    Jumoke, you are a fantastic writer. More ink.
    Oh, and I'm male. And now an addicted reader of your blog.

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    1. So pleased to see this. Thank you so much 'Tobatele. I thought our male readers had jumped ship. Your comment has made my day

      Nice to meet you on here.
      Have a great week.

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  4. My Anu can't just disappear like that nau! Find her o. And how is love suppose to be little madam? Life has its sharp turns and pain sometimes makes us appreciate life better. Thank God Idris didn't do anything stupid. OK. Am done commenting b4 I talk pass....

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    1. How did I miss this?
      Sorry, Tbone.
      I see you are happy that Idriss didn't do anything stupid. *SMH, hope he learns to take a minute before acting. Take several days actually, in his case.

      Thanks Tbone for seeing this one to the end with us.

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  5. Anuoluwa ,don't go too far and yes Idriss let her go or you dedicate your life to her,Haba!!!!

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  6. I wish this their relationship will end already ! It's too much of a mess sigh dear Bayo! Serves you right shoty!

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  7. Hmmm, many relationships have their ups and down before they become great, Idriss and Anu's marriage mirror 75% of marriages in Naija but that didn't stop me from hurting with Anu each time she hurts, some men don't appreciate what they have until they loose it. I hope and pray this story will not end in more tragedy.

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      1. Its well with me jare, busy busy ni, more so, I like reading 2 ,3 series together, my heart is always in my hand when am reading it and don't want it to end.

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