Minutes turned to hours and then days. Emeka had still not heard anything from Funke. He could not take it anymore. He got her parent’s home address from one of her friends and decided to find out if she was okay.
He parked his car outside the compound and knocked on the rusty gate which led into the compound that housed their small bungalow.
‘Who is it?’ A female voiced asked.
‘My name is Emeka; please, I’m here to see Funke.’ He replied.
There was silence.
Funke’s father came out accompanied by her mother. He opened the gate and asked, ‘What did you say your name was?’ There was evident hostility in his voice.
‘Emeka, sir’ he replied and greeted ‘good day sir’. He stretched out his hand for a handshake.
Funke’s father looked at his hand and slowly looked at him from head to toe. ‘How can we help you?’ he asked with an expressionless face.
‘I’m looking for Funke; I was told this is where her parents live’ he said, wondering the reason for the hostile response he got.
‘Well, Funke doesn’t want to see you. She said you should leave and never come back.’ The elderly man in his early sixties said.
Emeka was dumbfounded. That was the last thing he expected to hear from them. He stood there speechless.
When the silence was getting too long, Funke’s father made an attempt to shut the gate.
Then Emeka said, ‘I’ll appreciate it if she comes out to tell me that herself.’
‘Se eti eleyi di ni? (Is this one deaf?)’Funke’s father asked. ‘I said she cannot see you; you can leave now’ he said.
A voice spoke from behind them spoke, ‘Daddy, please don’t talk to him like that; at least he deserves some respect.’ Funke said as she walked towards the gate. Her eyes were red; her hair was so unkempt. She wore an oversized free dress.
‘Funke, is this true?’ Emeka asked still unable to believe his ears.
Funke’s parents moved aside but stood close enough to hear whatever she was going to say.
Funke looked at Emeka and before she could say another, hot tears rolled down her cheeks.
‘No, no please, tell me this is not true, Funke.’ Emeka’s eyes were moist with tears.
‘I really wish it wasn’t true, Emeka. My hands are tied.’ She cried.
‘No they aren’t, Funke. You always have a choice and you know it.’ He told her.
Funke couldn’t say anything but cry.
‘So you have made your choice?’ He asked.
Funke tried to hold his hand ‘please try and understand Emeka.’ She begged.
Emeka removed his hand from hers and turned his face away as a drop of tear fell from his eyes. ‘Have a great life, Funke.’ He turned around and left.
‘Emeka please don’t go, please’ she cried the more.
Her father hissed and went inside while her mother patted her on the back and said, ‘You did the right thing. Your very own, one from our local government, would come for you.’
Funke looked at her mother with disgust and brushed her hand off her back, ‘please leave me,’ she said and went inside.
‘Gbo to ba fe gbo; (listen if you want to listen) that is your cup of tea,’ her mother said and also went inside.
‘Mummy, I’m hungry.’ Bimbo’s voice jolted Mrs Cole back to reality.
Mrs Cole had been so lost in thought; her mind was miles away. ‘Aren’t we on the way home? You will eat when we get home.’ She told Bimbo.
‘I don’t want to go home,’ Bimbo said and folded her arms.
‘What do you mean you don’t want to go home? Will you rather live under the bridge? Better be thankful you have a place to call home’ Mrs Cole told her.
Bimbo remained silent.
‘But mummy, it is true.’ Seyi joined in. ‘None of us are eager to go home because we know what we are going to meet at home.’ She spoke up and didn’t mince words in stating the truth just as it was.
‘Why would you talk like that Seyi, did you keep a monster at home?’ Mrs Cole asked.
None of them responded. Their silence in itself screamed ‘yes’ to their mother’s question.
‘This is your father we are talking about, you know?’
‘Please let’s just branch somewhere and buy ice cream or something before we go back’ Bayo said with pity written all over his face.
Mrs Cole couldn’t argue with them anymore. She knew they were telling the truth. ‘Okay, we’ll buy ice cream but we won’t stay long so that your father won’t…’
Seyi cut in, ‘our point exactly.’
‘Hmmm,it is well.’ Mrs Cole sighed, she had no other argument.
Mrs Cole took the next turn to the right and drove into a filling station.
‘Yeeeeeeey, thank you mummy.’ Bimbo chorused from the back of the car.
Mrs Cole smiled ‘what if it is fuel I want to buy?’ she asked.
‘After buying the fuel, you will stop at the eatery and buy our snacks too.’ Bimbo was so smart and always had a way of getting to their mum’s heart.
‘You seemed so sure, “B baby”.’ That was the pet name Mrs Cole gave Bimbo.
‘Yes mummy, I’m sure.’ Bimbo said beaming with smiles as she watched her mum pack the car in front of the eatery.
Mrs Cole chuckled, ‘okay, come down everyone; we won’t stay long o.’
Before she could finish her sentence, Bayo and Bimbo had flung their doors opened and were out.
Full of excitement, Bayo said, ‘Mummy I heard they make really nice chicken pie here. Can I have chicken pie pleaasseeeee?’ He clapped his hand together and made an innocent face that he knew his mum couldn’t resist.
‘Okay, okay, I’ve heard. What do you want?’ She turned to the ladies.
Bimbo, jumping with so much excitement said, ‘mummy, me I want scotch egg with my chicken pie.’
‘See your mouth B baby, who said you were having chicken pie in the first instance?’ Mrs Cole smiled. Bimbo was indeed a smart little girl.
‘How about you?’ Mrs Cole turned to Seyi who had been quiet all along.
‘Anything,’ she said uninterested about what was going on.
‘What’s with the nonchalant attitude, young lady?’ Mrs Cole asked her.
‘Nothing,’ she replied with a straight face.
Mrs Cole was not ready to have her cheerful countenance altered by one adolescent’s mood swings, so she didn’t pursue it further.
‘Let’s go in,’ she told Bayo and Bimbo, leaving Seyi crawling behind like a turtle.
The eatery was fully air-conditioned. The smell of freshly baked pastries welcomed them and to the left were some chairs and table with a few people seated.
Mrs Cole didn’t pay attention to any other detail but walked straight to the counter and greeted the young man wearing a red T-shirt and face cap with a name tag which she used to identify him as Daniel.
‘Good afternoon,’ the attendant greeted. ‘What can I get for you? He asked politely with a smile.
‘Ummmmm!’ Mrs Cole browsed through the snacks in the show glass. ‘Do you have chicken pie?’ She asked.
‘Yes we do; it is 380 naira’, the young man said.
‘Yes!’ Bayo exclaimed.
‘How about scotch eggs?’ Mrs Cole asked.
‘Yes, 150 naira ma.’
‘Mummy wait, ask about sausage’ Bimbo pointed to the sausages.
‘Better make up your mind’ Mrs Cole told her. Turning to the attendant,‘how much are your sausages?’
‘So which one do you want?’ Mrs Cole asked Bimbo.
‘Mummy do it like this, buy scotch egg for me and sausage for Bayo, so that he’ll give me half of his own and I will give him half of my own’ Bimbo said without even consulting Bayo to know what he wanted.
‘Who told you I was to give you out of my own’ Bayo asked Bimbo with a frown.
Mrs Cole interrupted their drama ‘please can I have four chicken pie, two with scotch egg and the remaining two with sausage.’
‘Okay ma. Are you eating here or taking it away?’ He asked.
‘Take away, please’ she replied.
‘Alright ma’am,’ he turned around to dish the snacks while Mrs Cole reached into her bag to bring out her wallet.
Just as she did, she heard a familiar voice call her by her first name, ‘Funke,’ she turned around and couldn’t believe her eyes.
To be continued… Next Week Sunday! Please drop a comment on your thoughts on this so far.
What things have you learnt, and what do you think happens next?