Apart from the fact that Kamsi had been at the twin’s birthday party and it was only natural that we reciprocate by attending her birthday, the family was left with no choice but to attend when we learnt that the Chimobi’s who happened to be Kamsi’s maternal grandparents were a good client of Longe’s construction, earning Dimeji and Tobi a personal invite along with the whole pack especially as they were informed about Dr. Dominic’s involvement in our recovery. What a small world indeed.
And so there was Tokunbo and Dimeji snuggled closely to each other on our table, and then Tobi and Kamiye with the kids in between, and then me.
It was really good seeing Tobi and Dimeji back together and chatting away like the last month never happened. As it appears, what was supposed to have torn them apart seemed to have brought them even closer. Kamiye and Tobi also proudly displayed their love whenever they had the chance to. There seemed to be love everywhere around the party, except me who turned to the boys for comfort as we enjoyed our meal in a chatty bliss.
And of course, every once in a while, given the event, there were talks about relationship, that Tobi even narrated how he’d met Kamiye and one time when he’d wanted to impress her and had pulled most of his life savings to treat her to a lavish restaurant. He’d suffered for the rest of that month until he’d gotten his monthly pay from the bar he worked at night. He also confessed that he’d been too proud to inform Dimeji about it because the man had offered financial aid a lot of times than he could remember. Kamiye was laughing now. She too had known he was trying to impress her which was why she had ordered little. At the time, she could have afforded it but Tobi would never let her pay.
Tobi kissed her now and thanked her for sticking with him when he had nothing especially as she’d been born with a silver spoon. Both eyes radiated love and she began to laugh at something he said, with a hand on her soft baby bump. Tobi’s hand was soon on it as well, asking to know if she was well. I looked away as she nodded, and my eyes caught Dominic’s a few tables away where he was sited with his family. He was glaring at me unashamedly, and I must confess that the look in his eyes produced a deep flutter in my belly. I looked away and returned to my half-consumed meal.
Even after a month of not seeing him, I still feel the flutter and I am ashamed of it. So much for thinking I have moved on?
‘Pelumi, are you okay?”
Kamiye’s voice pulled me from my daydream as all six pairs of eyes were pointed at me. I moaned a response as I downed some water. Thankfully, they didn’t push but continued in their conversation.
“Hi Aunt P.” Kamsi tugged at my arm as she returned to our table for what must be the umpteenth time. “I want you to meet someone. “Her nudge was insistent, and for the kid’s sake, I followed her wondering who she wanted me to meet. But what I wasn’t expecting as we paved through the crowd was her grandmother, the hostess who was conversing with some kids at the playground.
I had started to withdraw but as she caught my eye, I knew there was no turning back. Mustering some courage, I smiled back at the woman as we reached her.
“Grandma. This is Aunt Pelumi.” Clearly, the child has been talking about me.
“Good afternoon Ma.” I knelt to greet her as my culture demanded but she pulled me up with a gentle strength I could never have guessed she possessed and hugged me. “How are you, my daughter?’
“Fine thank you Ma.”
She had so much kindness in her eyes as she quickly explained she was Kamsi’s late mother’s mother.
“I know. I’m sorry about that.”
“It’s fine.” She wove like one who had buried her ghosts and never wanted to relive it. ‘I’ve heard a lot about you.”
My heart skipped.
“Kamsi seems to have a certain fondness for you.”
“Same as I.” I pulled the beaming Kamsi to my side and looked to the child instead of her grandmother who had a look in her eyes that beheld some secret.
“And how is your memory now.”
She even knew about my amnesia?! I wonder how much Kamsi must have told her about me.
“Better, but I have learnt to take each day as it comes.”
“Don’t worry, you will be fine.” She said with assurance, almost sounding like Dr. Dominic.
Thankfully, I was saved from further questions when a kid started to cry and wadded towards us blinded by tears, and flung herself to her grandmother. She had to be Kamis’s cousin.
“Please excuse me.” Kamsi’s grandmother mentioned as she pulled the child away to attend to her.
I stared down at Kamsi, not knowing what to say to the beaming girl. If only she knew how complicated adult life was compared to a child’s. But Anjola soon appears whisking Kamsi away for a change of clothing leaving me amidst other kids as Kamsi ran off in her white and black dress bouncing after her. She told me she had designed the beautiful dress herself; I couldn’t wait to see what drama she had on the second dress. That’s why I’d gotten her some sketch pads, a mini sewing kit, and a pair of dresses and shoes since I didn’t exactly know what to give a child who dreamt of being a designer.
I wandered away from the kids into the open field and sat on a giant adult-sized swing. The last time I’d been on one was in Primary school, it felt good to be on one again. It felt right. I sat there, not even swinging it into motion, but enjoying the moment, and doing a little retrospect of my life as I watched the kids play. Someday, I would like to have some kids, maybe six, I mulled, but flung my eyes open, shocked and surprised at where my thought was headed when Tobi appeared and slid into the swing beside me. I hadn’t even heard him approach. And for a while, we sat quietly staring at the distance, that when he cleared his throat, I knew he was here for some serious talk.
“I know the past weeks or months have been a roller coaster ride for everyone. But all of these happenings have opened my eyes to seeing and realizing that life is too short to be deprived of happiness.”
I turned to him with a smile, wondering where our conversation was headed.
“That we all need someone and if I didn’t have Kamiye, I don’t know how I would have coped.”
“My wife makes me happy, she makes the pain and hurt bearable, which is why I can’t pretend I haven’t noticed you’ve been unhappy”
“And why do you think that?”
“Come on Pelumi, I am not a kid. You’ve been distant, sad I mean all the signs are there and I don’t blame you. I can only imagine how much of a toll it’s taking on you. I mean the accident, amnesia, forgiveness; you’ve been through a lot in your young life.”
“We both have been.” I smiled and he smiled back.
“You are strong, and I’m proud of the woman you have become. In short, I am proud to have you as my sister.” I turned to him, utterly moved by his sincere confession as he continued “I love you very much, and I want you to be happy, I want the best for you. Father and mother would surely have wanted that too, which is why I need to ask you a question.”
I shrugged, nudging him.
“Do you love Dr. Dominic?’
I blinked, taken by his unexpected question.
“No Pelumi, this is not something you should be ashamed of or lie about. I have your best interest at heart.”
“And what happened to my tribalistic brother who would never approve?”
“Like I said, things have changed and I see differently. And no offense but my opinion has never kept you from doing what you want.”
I jab him in the middle and he laughed again. “Seriously I need to know.”
“Well I guess I do, but like you, a lot has happened.”
“I think he feels the same way.”
“And how do you know?”
“I’m male, I am your big brother, so I just know.”
I smiled at his humor as my eyes mechanically searched for the man in question. He was talking to someone only a short distance away from Kamsi who was now in a pink dress, and beside her was that lady. The same one I’d caught with Dominic. The lady was forcefully trying to chat with Kamsi, I grinned in victory and satisfaction as Kamsi pulled away uninterestedly. The woman’s gaze met with mine just then. I didn’t miss the hurt in her eyes as she quickly recovered from the ill-treatment, and turned to Dominic instead, tapping him from behind and flinging herself into his arms as he turned. Dominic was stunned but he let her press a kiss to his cheek, an act I knew was to spite me. Dominic gaze grazed mine just then and he pushed her away.
I looked away hurt. Tobi had also seen that.
“I am over him.” I stated more as a reinforcement to myself. If Tobi knew the lies in those words, he didn’t push but kept in silence with me, his presence and concern offering all the comfort I needed.
From the corner of my eyes, I could see Dr. Dominic trying to make way towards me, but the woman wouldn’t seem to let him be so I turned on other conversations.
“So, where is mother ’s grave at, I don’t recall ever visiting.”
Tobi glared at me stunned at my swift change in the subject but he indulged me.
“What do you mean?”
He took a deep breath and from the way his jaw throbbed, I knew there was more I was yet to learn.
“What happened Tobi, where are mother’s remains?” my voice rose in hysteria.
“We don’t have it. Father killed her and disposed of her body.”
I was numb and speechless as his words and their meaning began to make sense. And as much as my memory could carry, I slowly retraced the day of her death. How she’d fallen and hit her head, how Father had carried her out and had returned with an excuse that she was at the hospital being taken care of, how Tobi and I had reported the matter to aunt Yemi after a week of mother’s stay at an unknown hospital which was later discovered inexistent as Father had lied.
There was more, I knew from Tobi’s troubled expression and I wanted to pry it out of him.
I turned to the howl of whoever it was and looked away from the furious stranger angrily marching towards us. At first, I dismissed it as nothing until the call became even more persistent that without doubts, I knew he was coming for me.
“Fahidat, Damn! Bitch!”
I frowned trying to make sense of the man’s anger and purposeful stride towards me. He was already starting to create a scene and I hoped whatever it was, was not serious as I scanned my memory for him but returned blank.
Curious, I started to rise, and in split seconds he was over me, save for Tobi’s swift intervention.
“Back off,” Tobi growled pushing the man away and shielding me from the crazed man as all of the party was now riveted at us and a small crowd had started to pull. Jeez!
The man’s gaze flicked over Tobi with a deep scowl as he took in Tobi and his stick, even staying longer on his sticks, as he then started to press again more determined and especially aimed for me. My insides recoiled. Behind Tobi, I felt partly safe, but what about him? With Tobi partly incapacitated, we both were at the mercy of a total stranger.
“Who are you?” I mustered in shrilled, shaky voice even alien to my ears.
“Oh, I knew it was you.” He said with a sinister dark stare. “I knew I would find you again. You thought you could run forever uhn?”
“Step back, I warn you.” Tobi sounded his warning. Although he was curious, he clearly wouldn’t allow the man to hurt me.
The man had started to push through Tobi, but in reflex, Tobi whacked him with his stick, and he crouched instinctively from where it had hit him. A noise had broken loose from behind. Judging from the deadly look in the man’s eyes, I knew he was hurt but somehow, he had begun to fear Tobi.
“I ask you again Sir, what do you want with my sister?’
The man’s fists clenched and unclenched at the sides as he straightened, and only when Dominic appeared at the man’s side, did sanity return into the scene. I felt safer in the men’s presence.
“Jay, what is it?”
“Fuck!” he cursed, running his hands over his well-groomed hair in frustration, evading Dominic’s grasp and continuing his blinding pace, ignoring Dominic’s inquiry.
“You bitch!” he spun again; his finger pointed at me as he lunged forward again only to be rooted by Dominic’s hold.
My stomach churned and rumbled in an uproar, as my bladder suddenly felt full like it could burst. I tried in desperation to juggle memories of the man and his strange, accusatory stare but nothing came.
Kamsi’s grandmother soon surfaced beside him, while the whole party gathered and watched the spectacle. At the moment, I could do anything to shrink into the earth.
“Jay, what is it?” she called authoritatively, yet soothing.
Jay? Kamsi’s uncle? What could he possibly want from me?
Thankfully, her voice had an effect on him as the man seemed to calm a fraction.
He shook loose from Dominic with a gentler scowl and turned to Kamsi’s grandmother with sudden gentleness yet not void of anger. The transformation was amazing.
“Aunt, that’s the bi…“he sent her an apologetic stare and continued. “The woman I got married to ten years back. The crazy street urchin that wrecked my life.” his words ended with his gaze at me, spewing anger.
Tobi shifted to get a better look at me, just as Dominic and Kamsi’s grandmother’s gaze settled on me in surprise, her once formerly loving stare had turned sour. Tons of other stares drove right through me like thousand daggers, Dominic’s in particular. I badly wanted to evaporate the scene.
The man ‘Jay’ continued his aggravating simmer. “I can’t believe I took you out of the street, brushed you, cleaned you up, married you against my mother’s wishes, and changed your life. And how did you pay me back?’ he shrugged. “You ran off with my inheritance leaving me almost broke.”
I gasped disbelieving his accusation. I might have done anything to survive, but I am sure I couldn’t have stolen. Surely, there was a mix-up somewhere, and sadly I cannot defend myself. Damn Amnesia! Now it was his words against mine, I realized as Tobi glared at me in disappointment. I couldn’t t bring myself to look at the rest. I couldn’t bear the disappointment or disdain in those eyes.
Trying my best to ward off tears, I blinked a couple of times in the uncomfortable spread of silence. I could hear my heart strum in my ears as I am even too tongue-tied to speak. I had no courage or fight left in me. My eyes and ears started to burn with unshed tears. I was close, so close to an outburst when a voice started. It was Dominic’s
“So, you mean she is your ex-wife?”
Impulsively, my gaze jolted over to the stranger again, badly wishing with a held breath that I was not his wife, that I was never married, and that all of this was only a dream, a nightmare, or a joke, but it wasn’t.
“No, she is not my ex, because we were never divorced.”
I gasped, feeling all of the blood drain out of me.
“So, you can call her my wife! The thief I fell in love with and married ten years ago.”
Yay!!!!!! Finally, we’ve reached the end of this Season of ‘Shadows’. Whew! What a ride. Most importantly, I want to thank you all for your love and support since day one.
Season 2 will be back by 29th of August 2020 with something new. But for now, I would like to know your thoughts. What do you expect in the next season, what would you like to see and which character would you like to see more?? Please drop your comments below. Seriously, it means a lot.
Till next month, Adios!!!