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“Wait… Amaka, Amaka please talk to me. What’s wrong?” Tunji followed her, struggling to keep up with her pace. She seemed to be headed towards the White House-Faculty of Science- but she changed direction and headed towards Forks and Fingers. Tunji had never seen her walking so fast and when she crossed the road seemingly oblivious of a drunk driver coming from the New Buka, he stopped walking and ran savagely to catch up with her on the other side of the road.
Amaka burst into loud tears as soon as she felt Tunji’s fingers on her shoulder. “Why now! Why? This is so not fair….” she wailed loudly forgetting her status as Miss Inter-Rel and their location completely. Tunji was confused, and embarrassed; he however managed to pull her together and sit her down on a felled tree close by attempting to calm her nerves. The onlookers her outburst had gathered dispersed one after the other; Tunji knew they would surely be the talk of the whole campus the next day but all that mattered to him was his being there for his new found love in her time of distress.
Amaka continued, “Why is God allowing all these things happen?” She sobbed and buried her head in his chest.
“Calm down Amaka” Tunji supplied gently. “Tell me what happened; I just might be able to help out” he patted her on the back, maintaining a calm stance.
“My dad… He’s hospitalized. He needs to undergo surgery and the doctor demands half a million. Where are we to get that from?” Amaka wept loudly again.
At the mention of half a million, Tunji knew it was beyond him. His father’s annual salary couldn’t even suffice, but he had to find words of encouragement for her; at least that would be his widow’s mite.
“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. I believe in prayer; it unlocks doors which seem impossible for human strength to open. Why don’t you talk to God, I’m sure he’ll answer you; and at the end of the day, daddy will be healed, and you won’t need to raise such a huge amount of money.” Tunji spoke convincingly like a clergyman.
“Yes I believe in God, I just don’t know why he’s allowing all these happen.” Amaka stopped crying, lifted her head from his chest and looked him in the eye. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Go on” Tunji was taken aback at the sudden change.
“You have known me for some time now. What do you think of me? Who can you say about my personality?” Amaka inquired, looking very serious.
Tunji took a deep breath. The question caught him unawares. He knew very well that telling her the truth would hurt her, but he had to do it anyway, if he truly loved her as he claimed. After taking a few minutes to fumble around searching for ‘less demeaning’ words to describe her personality, Amaka bailed him out.
“I know and understand what you are thinking… but have you ever wondered or bothered to know why I am the way I am?” She asked.
Silence…Tunji looked on in astonishment.
“I will tell you a little story about me.” She replied his silence with a smile.
“My father used to work with Exxon Mobil. We were comfortable and we had almost everything we wanted because he made a lot of money. At the advice of my mother, he resigned to set up his own business. He chose to go into importation of electronics but he fell into wrong hands and was duped. He lost all his money and properties because he obtained a loan from the bank for the business as well. We had no one to come to our aid, and we instantly moved from grace to grass. It was never easy to have fallen that low after having experienced comfort in life. My father couldn’t bear the shame, he moved us out of Lagos to Ibadan where we were able to rent a room and a parlour. Eversince, we’ve had to depend on what my mother makes from selling vegetables at Gbagi Market. My sister managed to graduate from school through welfare funds from church members and well wishers. I couldn’t bear to see my father suffer the shame; he’s never quite forgiven himself. He developed high blood pressure from thinking too much; he’s been in and out of the hospital for 3years now. I hated the sight of my mother going through the rigour of selling in the market. I wanted to continue my education, but that would be a daunting task for my parents; I had to find a means to lessen the burden upon them…”
“By sleeping around for money?” Tunji tried to mask it, but his voice was filled with accusation.
“I don’t sleep with every one of those men you see me with.” She responded quickly in defense. “Actually, the older men just want my company, they don’t want sex. They dash me money just to be with them. It is the younger boys who want sex for money.”
“…and you give it to them. Don’t you?” Tunji sounded curious and disapproving.
“Not always…” she replied meekly, “only when I really need the money to settle issues at home. By myself, I can survive. The reason why I engage in this to pay my fees and send some money home.” She was beginning to sob again.
Tunji was dumbfounded. He couldn’t bring himself to crucify her anymore. It was pretty obvious that she was a victim of circumstance, and as long as her family problems persisted, she couldn’t be convinced to stop selling her body for money. “There has to be a way out” he thought to himself, and he tasked his brain to figure out how to break Amaka out of her entanglement.
“Half a million is a huge amount of money to gather, but I have to find it, if my father must survive… I know you love me, I’m convinced about it. And I also understand that you don’t approve of my lifestyle, but what else can I do to raise this money to save my father’s life?”
Tunji dropped a tear. It was just as his friend had predicted; loving Amaka would be suicidal and he would have to be blind and deaf to maintain his love for her.
“I want to ask you a favour, Amaka.” Tunji finally spoke.
“Will you promise me that if we can manage to raise half a million for your dying father, you will put a final stop to this lifestyle?” Tunji gave her a piercing look that seemed to mean a lot than words could express.
Amaka thought deeply. Tunji was changing everything about her in one night. She had never experienced his kind of concern and care, and suddenly, she just wanted to please him, to make him happy, to give herself to him… to love him.
“Yes I promise!” She said, and she meant it with all her heart.
Tunji smiled and replied, “Let’s go back to the hostel. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I have in mind.”
Amaka stood up with renewed hope. She couldn’t see how Tunji would come up with the amount required but his words and his faith made her happy and she heaved a sigh of relief forgetting about her sorrows for a fleeting moment.
Gbade stepped back from his wife immediately. He was in shock, he couldn’t believe his ears.
“Can you say that again please?”
“You heard me right the first time. I poisoned your food, because I’m tired of you violating my rights as your wife and the mother to my kids!” Juliet’s eyes sparkled with terror. “You have just a few minutes to say your goodbyes” she continued as she ordered the cook to clear the tables.
Gbade dropped to his knees, he was beginning to feel the impact of the poison in his belly. He looked at his son, who was also staring blankly at him. His daughter was mysteriously smiling and waving him goodbye. The house workers present also looked at him in pity and walked away one after the other as mourners do when walking past a corpse lying in state.
Juliet took her kids inside, leaving Gbade alone in the living room to wriggle in pain and wrestle with death.
“Ahhh!” Gbade screamed, as he felt sharp pangs of pain from the depths of his belly. “Juliet why? I said I’m sorry… why juliet, why?” He screamed as he jolted into reality, raising his head from the soft cushion. He had been dreaming. He was covered in cold sweat.
He jumped to his feet and pinched himself severally to be sure he was actually dreaming.
“Juliet would never do this!” He wondered to himself. He looked at his wristwatch, it was 5:38pm; about the normal time he left his office to chill with friends before going home to join his family. He packed his briefcase quickly and joined his driver in the car, and in a few minutes, they were headed for his friend’s place.
Deji Arowolo and Gbade had been friends since their childhood days. They did everything together, and were each other’s best adviser. It was only logical for Gbade to consult him after such a horrible dream.
“Deji, I’m getting scared of my wife!” Gbade declared. “The dream seemed so real, I felt it even after waking up.” Gbade explained, still shaken with shock.
Deji only kept on laughing hysterically.
“It is not as funny as you are taking it. Say something.”
“It’s just a dream” Deji finally spoke managing to control his amusement. “Dreams are just a representation of what you carry on your mind. It means you have been thinking of that kind of scenario lately.” Deji further explained.
“You may be right. But I didn’t think she would do something that terrible. Actually, Juliet has been keeping tabs on my movement recently, and she caught me red handed at Professor IK’s dinner where I met that Ibinabo lady. She was really mad at me and I didn’t care, I went out with the lady anyway. But since that night, she’s been acting distant, she hardly talks to me except it is absolutely necessary. She acts like I don’t exist at times, and to make matters worse, she doesn’t even sleep on the same bed with me anymore. All these have been giving me the impression that she’s up to something… and this dream, this dream just crowns it all.” Gbade submitted.
“I quite understand you friend. You messed up but you are still the man here, and it’s your family. You still have the responsibility of putting your home in order” Deji calmed him. He paused to look around to make sure no one was listening, then he whispered to Gbade, “You have to change your tactics. Act like you are really sorry for your mistakes, spend more time with her, give your kids the necessary attention, and your wife won’t have to suspect your movements. That’s what I have been doing with my family; I keep just one lady per time, and I make it ‘top secret’. Remember, you need those ladies as much as you need to keep your family together.”
“So what do you suggest I do?” Gbade inquired softly with child-like naivete.
“Go home, apologize to your wife and turn a new leaf. Make her feel on top of the world and keep your affairs with other ladies far away from home and from the prying eyes and itching ears of her gossip friends.” Deji responded.
Gbade left his friend’s place wondering how to present his apology to his wife. Several thoughts came to his mind but he couldn’t quite decide on which approach to settle for. The near death experience of his dream seemed to be having a greater effect on him than his friend’s advice.
After several futile attempts to arrive at a worthy plan, he decided to postpone his apology till the next morning, he just wanted to get home and sleep.
He arrived at his mansion at almost the exact time he did in his dream. The gateman opened the gate with an unusual smile, and greeted him with excitement. He stepped down from his car and was welcomed with a similar smile by his domestic staff. The whole mansion was alive with excitement and everything seemed like a perfect de javu with just little differences here and there.
His heart began to pound when he saw his children race out of the building to welcome him with glee and a warm embrace. They were obviously excited by something.
“Daddy we have been waiting for you” his daughter said.
“Daddy come and see what mummy did…” Dominic held on to his father as he led him to the wonderfully redecorated living room.
Gbade was shocked beyond words when his wife appeared, looking resplendent in her beautiful gown.
“Happy Birthday Sweetheart.” She hugged him tightly. “Go and get refreshed and come to dinner, specially prepared by me…”
To Be Continued Next Week…………
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