They all got down and went inside. Mr Cole was seated in the sitting room, watching TV.
‘Good afternoon sir,’ the children greeted him.
He looked towards their direction and continued watching TV, ignoring them.
They left the sitting room and went to their rooms.
‘Daddy Seyi, good afternoon,’ Mrs Cole said after the children had gone.
‘What is good about the afternoon?’ He asked, angry. ‘What is the time?’
Mrs Cole looked at her wrist watch ‘12:45’, she replied.
‘Is there a reason you are just coming back at this time?’ he asked, raising his voice.
Mrs Cole didn’t respond.
‘Oh so now, you have decided to give me the silent treatment?’
‘No, it’s not that. The children…’ she tried to explain.
‘The children what!’ He cut in sharply. ‘The children what?’ he repeated.
‘Listen to me and listen well; let this be the last time you would take forever before returning home from church. Am I clear?’
‘Yes,’ Mrs Cole mumbled. She was so upset and deep down wished she could strangulate the man to death. The only thing that kept her in this marriage was her three children. She angrily walked out of the sitting room and went to her room.
As she got to her room, she sat on the bed and cast her mind back to when she met Emeka at the eatery. She remembered he had given her his card so she reached for her bag which Seyi dropped on her bed together with her snacks and drink. She found Emeka’s card and kept stirring at it.
Thoughts of regret began to linger again this time around, causing her intense sadness. She didn’t know when tears welled up in her eyes and began to drop.
She brought out her phone from her bag and saved his number. She felt if at all she was going to call him, it was too early to do such.
She dropped her phone on the bed and stood up to change her church attire into a long free dress. As she was doing that, her phone rang. She looked at the caller’s ID, it was a strange number. She wasn’t expecting any call. She picked the call and said, ‘Hello’.
‘Hello, good afternoon,’ a male voice replied.
‘Good afternoon,’ she said, wondering who it was.
‘I’m sure you are wondering who this is,’ the voice said with a chuckle.
‘Yes, I am,’ she said bluntly; she wasn’t in the mood for games.
‘That’s fine. This is Ben.’ He replied.
Mrs Cole still didn’t remember any Ben. ‘Ben who, please?’ She asked.
‘Ben from church,’ he said.
‘Oh Pastor George, good afternoon sir,’ she said with a smile. I’m sorry, I don’t have this number saved on my phone.
‘No problem. Something happened to the other line and I lost my contacts. I got yours today from someone in church. I hope you don’t mind?’ He asked.
‘No problem at all sir.’
‘It’s just that I’ve been having this really strong burden for you and I still feel we should see to talk and pray.’ He told her.
‘Thank you, for your concern sir’ Mrs Cole sincerely appreciated it but wasn’t comfortable with meeting with her pastor in a restaurant. It didn’t seem right to her; she didn’t want to pass the wrong message across to anyone.
‘So what do you have to say about my previous offer?’ He asked.
‘We could meet in church sometime during the week,’ she suggested.
Okay that’s fine too. I just thought you’d feel more relaxed somewhere outside church but if you are okay meeting in the church, that would be great. How is Tuesday, before Bible study?’ He asked.
‘Let’s make it 3pm; I’ll need to get home early. I won’t be attending Bible study.’ She explained.
‘Okay, 3pm it is then.’
‘Alright sir, take care sir.’
‘Bye’ He ended the call.
She dropped the phone and continued changing her dress then heard a knock on the door.
‘Who is it?’ She asked.
‘Mummy, it’s me,’ the feminine voice replied.
‘Come in,’ she replied her, pretty sure it was Seyi.
She opened the door and came in. ‘Mummy,’ she paused as if to get her mum’s attention.
‘Yes what is it?’ Mrs Cole wasn’t even looking in her direction; all that was on her mind was preparing lunch in time so Mr Cole won’t make a scene.
‘You haven’t still said anything about if I can go to Sope’s house,’ Seyi told her mum, this time around, her tone was low and so polite.
‘That’s because I have not made up my mind’ Mrs Cole said, as she removed her jewelries and placed them on the dressing table.
‘When will you make up your mind please?’ Seyi was so gentle and calm.
Mrs Cole looked at her, ‘So, it’s because you want something from me that you are acting like someone stole your money?’
Seyi smiled a little, ‘please mummy, please.’
‘That’s how she will be begging me like I have something that belongs to her. How are your thighs?’ She asked.
‘A lot better,’ Seyi replied promptly.
‘Okay. I want you to join me in preparing lunch; once it’s ready, you can leave.’ Mrs Cole said as she picked a hanger from the wardrobe.
‘Thank you, thank you mummy; you are the best,’ she jumped in excitement then felt some pain in her thigh. ‘Ouch’ she groaned.
‘What is that?’ Mrs Cole turned around to ask.
‘Nothing ma,’ she quickly replied. ‘What’s for lunch? Let me go and start.’ Seyi was eager to get it over with.
‘Parboil seven cups of rice, bring out the chicken and bowl of blended pepper from the freezer; I will join you soon.’
‘Okay ma’, she said as she turned around to leave.
‘Jo sanu mi (please have mercy on me), be careful with fire and hot water o, don’t let yesterday repeat itself.’ She warned her.
‘Okay ma, I will be very careful.’ Seyi said then left the room. On her way to the kitchen, she sent a whatsapp message to Goke; ‘My mum has given me permission to go to Sope’s house. I’ll let you know when I am almost ready so you can start coming.’
She waited awhile for his reply as she entered the kitchen but didn’t get any so decided to drop the phone and start up with the cooking before her mum came.
Just after bringing the bowls of chicken and pepper out of the freezer, she heard a message notification tone. She dropped the bowls and quickly picked her phone to check what message it was. Goke had just replied; ‘Okay great, I’m ready when you are.’
Seyi smiled and dropped the phone then continued what she was doing. She felt a prick in her conscience and a thought crossed her mind, ‘Is this right?’
She ignored it and continued washing the seven cups of rice she had measured.
Again she felt uneasy and that question popped again, ‘Is what you are doing right?’
‘There is nothing wrong in going to see a friend?’ She replied, ready to argue.
‘Was that what you told your mum?’ Her conscience interrogated her further.
‘Both Sope and Goke are my friends.’ She replied.
‘Your mum doesn’t know about Goke.’
‘Leave me alone!’ She snapped aloud, obviously distressed by the thoughts.
She started singing to avoid hearing anymore of what her mind had to tell her. Even though the thoughts stopped, the uneasiness and lack of peace persisted.
Some minutes later, her mum came to join her in the kitchen. She saw that Seyi had started parboiling the rice as she had instructed and she praised her, ‘Kuse (well done), let me prepare the sauce for the jollof rice.’
‘Okay ma,’ Seyi said and began to bring out the ingredients she knew her mother would need.
To be continued. Read Part 11 Now Here
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