‘You don’t say!’ The man in his mid-forties exclaimed.
‘Emeka!’ She screamed his name, her face flushed with a pleasant surprise. That was the last person she expected to see. ‘It’s so good to see you,’ she said as she hugged him warmly.
‘It sure is,’ he responded as he returned her hug. ‘I was sitting right there when you walked in,’ he pointed to the table at the corner. ‘I kept arguing with myself that it wasn’t you but someone that looked like you.’
‘It is me…o,’ she replied in a sweet smiling voice.
‘You look good as always; who would have thought that aging will look this pretty on you?’ He complimented her.
‘It’s been what… twenty years?’ Mrs Cole asked still amazed at who was standing in front of her.
‘Eighteen years actually,’ Emeka corrected.
‘Oh wow!’ ‘You remember the exact period.’
‘How could I have forgotten such a life changing experience, Funke?’ His facial expression revealed some hurt.
Mrs Cole read it and immediately knew what he was talking about, as her own mind journeyed down memory lane.
‘Mummy, the snacks and drinks are ready,’ Bimbo tapped her mum, her voice jolting her back to reality.
‘Is this your daughter?’ Emeka asked, smiling down at the young girl who was already showing the promise of becoming a stunner like her mother.
‘Yes,’ Mrs Cole replied smiling as she ruffled Bimbo’s curls. ‘This is Bimbo, the youngest; this is Bayo, the second and…’ Turning to the right where she expected her eldest daughter to be, ‘Where is your sister?’ she asked .
‘She went to use the toilet,’ Bimbo replied.
‘You have lovely children; there is no doubt where they got their looks from,’ Emeka said.
Mrs Cole couldn’t help but smile; then turning to them said, ‘Won’t you greet?’
‘Good afternoon sir,’ they chorused.
‘One minute, please?’ Mrs Cole, with her right index finger daintily raised, asked to be excused and turning to the attendant asked, ‘How much is my bill?’
‘2,920 naira,’ he responded
Mrs Cole brought out her debit card to pay.
Emeka immediately brought out his wallet and said, ‘Funke please let me handle it.’ He stretched his hand forward to give his debit card to the attendant and told him, ‘Add it to my bill.’
‘Thank you, Emeka. You really didn’t have to.’ Mrs Cole said with a smile.
‘Oh please, it’s the least I could do for such a dear friend I have not seen in almost two decades.
‘I really appreciate it,’ Mrs Cole said as she picked up the snacks and handed it over to Bayo. ‘Bimbo, go and call your sister; I don’t know if she’s delivering a baby in the toilet,’ she said to Bimbo as she turned to leave.
‘So are you here on a visit or what?’ Mrs Cole wanted to know.
‘Not exactly; my family and I moved to Lagos about two years ago. I got transferred from Abuja.’ He told her as they walked towards the exit.
‘Your family?’ Mrs Cole didn’t realise she wasn’t the only one with a family.
‘Yeah, my wife and two sons live at Ikoyi,’ he told her as he held the door for Bayo and her to exit the building while he followed behind.
‘That’s really nice,’ Mrs Cole said as she fought thoughts of jealousy that were beginning to creep into her mind.
‘I could pay you a visit one of these days,’ Emeka said as he brought out his complementary card and handed it over to her. ‘Let’s keep in touch,’ he said.
‘I sure will. Thank you once again.’ Mrs Cole collected the card and smiled.
‘Alright take care; my regards to your husband’ he said, then left.
“Husband!” That word made Mrs Cole’s heart ache especially when she realized that the tall ruggedly handsome man, exuding so much charm and confidence, walking towards and entering a black SUV was the man who was to have born that title.
She entered into her car and waited for Seyi and Bimbo.
‘Mummy, who was that man?’ Bayo asked.
‘An old friend,’ she said. ‘Where are your sisters?’ she asked, changing the topic quickly.
‘There they are,’ Bayo pointed at the door as they came out. ‘I wonder what took them so long,’ he said.
‘I wondered too.’
Seyi and Bimbo approached arguing.
‘Bimbo, you never mind your business,’ Seyi snapped at her younger sister.
‘Everything is my business. You too, why can’t you let me check your phone?’ Bimbo asked.
‘Because it’s my phone not yours.’
‘Both of you should enter the car and stop fighting like cat and dog, I don’t have all the time in the world.’ Mrs Cole told them as she turned on the ignition of the car.
‘We need to get home in time so your daddy doesn’t get upset,’ she told them.
‘Mummy, please can I go to Sope’s house later this afternoon?’ Seyi asked again. She had still not gotten a convincing response.
‘So it’s because of Sope’s house you are giving everybody a cold attitude, right?’ Mrs Cole asked. I was talking to you the other time and you were barely responding. Now that you want my permission, you are now behaving as if all is well.’
‘Mummy, it’s not like that.’ Seyi tried to defend herself.
‘It’s like what?’ Mrs Cole asked as she reversed out of the car park.
‘I’m having menstrual pain,’ Seyi said.
‘So you decided to suffer in silence because you are the first person to have menstrual pain. Better eat and take paracetamol when we get home. Is it with menstrual pain you want to visit Sope?’ Mrs Cole asked.
‘No ma; when I take the paracetamol, I’ll be fine.’ Seyi quickly said.
‘Iwo lomo (suit yourself),’ Mrs Cole told her.
‘Mummy, please may we take our snacks now?’ Bimbo asked eager to pounce on hers.
‘Wo (look) do whatever you want,’ she snapped. She was beginning to get cranky, transferring her disappointment and frustration on the innocent children,. She knew the primary issue was as a result of seeing Emeka.
As she drove home, she started thinking about her life; what it was and what it would have been if her parents didn’t ruin it by not allowing her marry the one person she truly desired to marry. ‘At over forty, he still looked so good; see his car, he works with a multinational oil and gas firm. I’m sure he probably lives in a mansion. Oh how I wish it was Emeka I got married to and not that idiot that calls himself a husband.’ She didn’t know when she started entertaining negative envious thoughts, comparing her husband with Emeka. She hated the state in which she has found herself. ‘Why me? Why did all this happen to me? God knows, if I could reverse the hand of time, I wouldn’t have listened to my parents. In the end, did I still marry someone from from our village? When a rich influential Lagos man told my parents his son was interested in me, they stupidly and greedily didn’t object just because of money. I was foolish to think they cared about me. Where is the money now? The useless husband is poorer than a church mouse now and my parents are not here to suffer with me,’ she went on and on with thoughts of regret and bitterness until she got to the gate of the house.
‘Do you need a prophet to tell you to come down and open the gate?’ She snapped at Bayo.
Neither Bayo nor his siblings could grasp what was going on with their mother.
Bayo came down and opened the gate.
Mrs Cole drove into the compound and parked the car.
‘Seyi, carry my bag and the remaining snacks inside for me,’ Mrs Cole told Seyi as the turned off the car and gave a deep sigh without even realizing it.
‘Mummy are you okay?’ Bimbo asked.
‘What kind of question is that? My friend come down from the car and go inside!’ She barked out the words. Mrs Cole was in the worst of moods.
To be continued. Read Part 10 Now Here
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