Days had passed since Tobi’s last visit with Pelumi, and in all of those times, neither had reached out to the other. Maybe he’d been a little hard on her, he admitted, maybe even for the briefest moment he’d been inconsiderate, thoughtless to her feelings-especially his imperious attempt at shoving forgiveness down her throat he thought. She deserved some time to heal, for only then will forgiveness be easy, he reasoned as they drove down the clear asphalt.
‘You don’t care about me’ those words taunted him. Surely she didn’t mean that, surely she knew how deep his love for her ran, he thought, and someday he hoped she’d understand just why he’d come at her that way. If only she knew of his past, the horrible lifestyle he’d transcended, the guilt and self-derision until he’d been healed by Kamiye’s love, faith, and easy acceptance.
If anything, Pelumi seemed to have it easy, as amnesia to him had begun to seem a blessing rather than a curse; a second chance at life, unladen with baggage from the past unlike him.
“Good afternoon Sir.” The voices called, as the car pulled to a stop at the kid’s school, interrupting Tobi’s thoughts. Tobi responded with a nod at the security men as they were granted access into the driveway. As soon as the boys sighted the black Mercedes they immediately tore from their friends and raced to the car, climbing beside Tobi in giant leaps, both asking about their mother as it usually was her duty to collect them from school.
“She is fine, I just decided to pick you since I was around.”
“Okay.” They muttered relieved, resuming their ceaseless chattering as they pulled out of the school’s driveway when they were stopped by the exit and waved down by a guard. Wale frowned in disapproval as he brought the car to a stop, guessing the man wanted a tip from his employer as he rounded over to Tobi’s window with a huge smile as Tobi rolled down the window.
“Sir, one Mr. Badmus wanted you to have this.”
“Me?” Tobi questioned, glaring confusedly at the brown manila envelope held at him.
“Yes sir!” The guard nodded with a look of surety as Tobi assessed it, without making any effort to receive it as he wondered why anyone could possibly have a parcel for him at his kids’ school.
“I don’t know any Badmus.” Tobi confessed, warily eyeing the envelope as the man turned it over, to show his name boldly drafted on it.
“He said he couldn’t reach you, and wanted to give it to one of the boys but I didn’t let him. I would have given Madam, but thank God you came.” The guard announced with a hint of pride not lost on Tobi.
At last, after long moments of hesitation, Tobi took it, yet wary of the flat brown paper envelope as he pressed his palms against it, feeling its content.
“Thank you.” Tobi returned to the guard, ignoring the disappointing fall of his face as he rolled up his window, dashing any expectation for a tip.
They started off again, Tobi yet with a puzzled glare at his name penned on the envelope in an unfamiliar cursive style. Curiously, he tore into it and couldn’t be more shocked when inside, he found another envelope, smaller than the first. Now even more curious, Tobi tore off its seal and dug for its content, that felt like the glossy pages of a photograph. Except, what he wasn’t quite braced for was the picture glaring back at him as he yanked it out, and of sheer instinct, he quickly turned it face down. Tobi’s heart had stopped, and when it resumed, it began with a reckless thud, drumming violently until his ears bled.
For moments he was dazed, frozen. And of sheer instinct, he took a quick look over his shoulder at the kids to ensure they’d missed it. Certain they had as they were engrossed in some conversation, he reached for it again, barely recovered from his initial shock, and carefully turned the image of Dimeji and Kamiye for his view alone. Time stopped again, his breath seized as he flipped through stacks of intimate shots, pausing a moment to regard each shot, somewhat more intimate than the first. In one, both were smiling and intently staring at the other in what could only pass as enthralled lovers’ stare. In some, there were shared hugs and laughter in a cringe-worthy photograph of Kamiye in a revealing bikini, and a barely-there scarf around her waist.
Tobi cringed at the shot that had captured Dimeji’s arms wrapped around Kamiye’s waist in a manner that seemed somewhat beyond friendship. He didn’t miss the look on Dimeji’s face, the captured emotion on his closed lids, as he bent towards her from behind possibly for a peck. He would give anything for a glimpse of Kamiye’s own emotion, except her back was turned to the camera.
Tobi tried to keep his fury at bay, trivializing the situation, except his subconscious wouldn’t let him, as the next shot appeared, one of Kamiye on a sun lounger, her head thrown back in a wild laugh, as Dimeji’s shirtless form knelt beside her, his face concealed beside hers as he appeared to be whispering into her ears, or perhaps nuzzling, he couldn’t tell which.
Rage burst deep in Tobi this time at the last photograph, the most irking of all, where Kamiye’s face was filled with pure delight, the very expression he was accustomed to at her peak. A low guttural sound formed in his throat at the sight of Dimeji’s arm wrapped around her waist, dangerously close to her bottom and somewhat intimate. Tobi now was lost in fury but for some reason, he stilled to consider the photographer and his motives.
For the first time, he considered other possibilities, and questioned the authenticity of the pictures which could be viewed from two angles; that of friends having a good time or of lovers canoodling in the sun, the latter, clearly the photographer’s intent. But at a second glance at the nefarious shot, all traces of doubt was shred, replaced by gratitude for the pictures.
“Dad, are you okay?” Tolu broke into his thoughts.
“Yes, I am.” Tobi chirped breezily, working a fake smile for the boys and quietly pushing back the pictures lest he drew their attention to it. As expected, the boys attention soon returned to other things. Intermittently, they would call on him until he’d assure them again that all was well.
For the rest of the ride, Tobi was restless, his mind working like a clockwork, connecting all the possible dots and suppressed haunches all through the years, dating as far back as when they’d met. He and Kamiye had met through Dimeji during their university days. He’d know Dimeji had a crush on his lady friend, but when Dimeji had gotten into another relationship, he thought he’d been over it. At some point, Dimeji had even sworn that his feelings for the princess were long dead since he’d begun seeing his new girl and that was when Tobi approached her.
But now the more he thought of it, he wondered if he should have taken Dimeji’s words at all, or listened to that still small voice instead that had always whispered a likely affection for his wife, a voice he’d done well to ignore until the pictures had helped shed more light. Now every action, every look, every expression made sense; especially Kamiye’s keen concern for Dimeji, which had always seemed a little bit past normal but she’d always shrugged off as brotherly. Now beyond doubts, a relationship between the pair seemed possible.
A chill coursed through Tobi as he was torn between denial and reality of Kamiye’s betrayal and infidelity. Why now, he wondered when all of those years she’d blatantly refused Dimeji. Almost immediately, possible reasoning struck. Longe’s, the notion grew with the passing minutes, choking him, he had to gasp for breath. He’d barely clasped at consciousness when another information struck heavily on his subconscious. The short bob hair!
Early into the accident, Tobi remembered Kamiye wearing that style, that must have been when the pictures were taken. It pierced his soul that she’d sought comfort in the arms of another, while he’d been at the hospital, fretful for his life and his sister’s.
Rage surged in Tobi as he tugged for one of the photographs. Fourth of March was rightly inscribed on it. By vague recollections, he remembered Tomiwa had been out of the country at that time. Chances were that even the young man didn’t know. And even if he did, he’d never tell on his brother, the bond between the two was strong. And so that left Mr. Badmus, a mystery.
Starting with his close circle, Tobi tried to ponder Mr. Bdmus’ identity, when he remembered Tokunbo’s distressed call earlier that morning. He’d been at a meeting but had promised to call back. He hadn’t gotten to her since then.
Without hesitation, Tobi dialed her, feeling awry to have forgotten about her all day. There was no response, he tried again, and when she didn’t answer, he couldn’t help but wonder if the photographs were from her, for apart from Tomiwa, who else had such access to the Adejuyigbe’s home, but Tokunbo. But then, she wouldn’t have known he would be at the kid’s school today. So who could it be?
Benumb from the funny twist of events and his mind’s ceaseless wonder, Tobi dialed Tega, his last plug for sanity. He answered at the second ring, but his response was brief. He was in the middle of a case and would reach Tobi later. Tobi agreed, but not until announcing the importance of his call, that both soon decided a time and place.
Too blinded by rage, Tobi barely noticed their zoom through the estate, until the blaring hoot of the horn arriving at his gate. “No don’t drive in, just drop the kids and take me to Lakeside hotel, I need to cool off.”
“Yes sir!” Wale replied, allowing the passenger door open and letting the boys through the gate. And not until the boys had disappeared into the gate with it firmly shut behind them, did Tobi order. “Drive!”