Dear reader, Today’s story marks the end of the first series on my blog and so far the readership and comments have been worth the time. I’d love to get feedback from you through comments and the polls by the side of the blog. Thanks for dropping bye. A new series will start sooner than you imagine.– ajoyo
“Chow chow!” Folabi loved to hear the sound of his Merecedes benz E-Class anytime he pressed the entry button on the key. He had purchased the car early in the year for whooping thirty thousand pounds sterling, and he loved every bit of the experience. Having made so much money from his Information technology firm he didn’t think it was too much to spoil himself with the german machine. He pressed one of the preset radio buttons and his favourite radio station, Capital FM blared through the speakers. Driving out of Gatwick airport, he realized he hadn’t told Oluchi he would be coming in today. He wanted to surprise her, so he kept his phone switched off. Oluchi, the woman who possessed his heart; He met her at the Nigerian embassy three years back when his company got the contract to link all Nigerian embassies in the world to one server that had been installed in Abuja. She was the personal assistant to Musa Kingibe, who was then the Nigerian ambassador to the United Kingdom. While working on the contract, he would pretend to have need to speak with the ambassador just to get to speak with Oluchi. From the exchange of personal numbers, to starting a relationship, and meeting his parents, she had a baby for him, and their wedding ceremony was just three weeks away. His thoughts were interrupted by the traffic camera lights that flashed his car just as he beat the lights at Clapham junction. “Find me at Paddington. That’s where I live”, he wished the traffic lights would realize how much he cared less about a hundred pounds fine. This was the mother of his child and the woman he loved he had been thinking about. What could be more important? He smiled and drove carefully the next hour until he parked at his favourite spot on his Street, just behind Paddington station. He walked to the front door and was tempted to knock, but he preferred the total surprise. He put the keys through the keyhole, and opened the door effortlessly. As the door opened he could hear Oluchi shouting at her mom in the room. Today he was going to find what they always spoke about in hush tones since her mom arrived from Nigeria in the last two weeks before then. As he crept through the sitting room their voices rose.
“Nne, please let me be on this matter. I only told you in confidence. At least my heart has felt lighter since the day I told you”, Oluchi shoved her mother aside as she tucked little Joshua under the blanket.
“My daughter I know you told me this in confidence, but I’m afraid…I’m afraid one day Stanley will come for his son. I don’t think the matter should be kept like this for too long”. Mrs Johnson pleads passionately with her daughter. “I didn’t know what insomnia was until you broke this terrible news to me. Every night in this house feels like judgment day to me.”
“Nne, what has happened has happened. There is nothing I can do about it. Besides Stanley told me I can keep it secret since he has a wife.”
“My dear, one day he will come for this boy.”
“And what exactly do you want me to do about this? Call Folabi, and tell him the son he thinks is his is actually for another man? God forbid. I’d rather die first than face the shame. Nne if you know you cannot keep this secret, allow me book your next flight back to Nigeria” .Folabi shivered at the door as he listened. Winter arrived inside his jacket; in seconds he grew so cold that he thought he felt his heart freezing to a halt. Stanley, Ambassador Kingibe’s son was the father of his child?
“I have a plan. Immediately after our wedding I will take Joshua to Nigeria, and I’ll arrange to have him abducted. At least when he’s not here with us everyone is fine. Stanley will not come asking for his son any time in future, and Folabi will never know he never had a son”
“And how do you expect to have another baby? I thought you told me Folabi couldn’t father a child.” Mrs Johnson looked at her daughter with a hopelessly sad countenance.
“We have been having unprotected sex since we met and not for once did I get pregnant for him. My last pregnancy before Joshua was before I met him, and it was for Stanley. When I got pregnant with Joshua, I knew it couldn’t have been him because he was not in the country at the time the scan pointed that I conceived.” Folabi opened the door still hoping he would wake up in San Francisco.
Confused and dazed, Folabi pushes the door open and said, “I have heard everything, and I’m not going to ask any questions. I only need the two of you to do me a favor. Please do not look for me tonight. I will not be lost”. He turns back and walks briskly towards the main door. He ran into the street when he heard Mrs Johnson’s footsteps coming after him. He hailed down the first taxi and asked the driver to drive him to the nearest Hilton. His mind was dead, and he knew it.
Sleep departed Folabi the whole night as he contemplated the happening of the last couple of hours. Keeping his sanity seemed an uphill task. A part of his mind succumbed to the temptation of manslaughter, but the other part had graphic images of his face on the pages of the newspaper for the murder of one Oluchi Johnson. He knew he had to make a constructive decision within the next couple of hours. He turned on the computer in the suite and logged online to access the private database he had created for himself for emergencies like this, when he wouldn’t have his phone on him.
At 4am in the morning after speaking with his mother for two hours he decided he was going to join his Nigerian partner in Lagos. He called his lawyer, his private banker at Barclays, and a security company owned by his friend. Finally he called British airways and quoted his Business club card number. At 10 am in the morning, he walked into his apartment in company of three bodyguards, and his lawyer. Oluchi sprang up from the couch in the sitting room when she saw him. She lurched forward to kneel at his feet but was quickly prevented from touching him by one of the hefty body guards.
“My son, please listen to me”, Folabi heard Mrs Johnson wailing from behind him. This was a closed chapter of his life, and that was why he needed the body guards to keep the two women away from him. He slammed the door to his bedroom shut, and by the time he came out two hours later, it was with two suitcases and a briefcase.
“I have only one thing to say, and that is to ask you to pay attention to the instruction my lawyer will give you after I have left especially as regards this house. If you need to reach me, please speak with my mother. I will be in touch with her. Finally, please give the boy to his father”. Oluchi and her mom watched helplessly as he made his way out of the house in the company of the body guards. Folabi knew he needed to say goodbye. “Goodbye?” he said to himself. “Can I really say goodbye to this chapter of my life?”
February 14, 2004
This was St Nicholas, and Folabi believed the best doctors were on hand to ensure that Kemi delivered safely, but the look on the faces of the nurse that came out of the private ward was nothing but unconvincing. He wondered if everything was okay. This baby was all he dreamt of since he met Kemi. He had told her that they would be married as soon as she was delivered of the baby. He feared Oluchi was true when she said he couldn’t bear a child, so he had insisted that Kemi got pregnant for him and deliver before they got married. He trusted Kemi; she was a born again Christian, but he had also asked the doctors to confirm the paternity of the child immediately after delivery. He sprung to his feet as the doctor in charge of the delivery came out.
“The mother is fine, but we are sorry we lost the baby”.
“Tell me it’s not true Doctor.” Folabi’s voice quavered. “First they said I couldn’t father a child, and now that I have fathered one, he dies at birth”. He picked up his phone and dialed his mother’s number. “Mummy, she lost the baby. …just wanted to let you know that I am now broken in pieces on the inside. Mummy, is there something wrong with me? I will be thirty six this year mum…” For the first time in a long time tears rolled down his cheeks. He brought out his cheque book, tore a leaf from it and went into the theatre to see Kemi. He couldn’t look into her eyes as she stared hopelessly at him from the bed. He kissed her on the forehead and dropped the leaflet behind her back. She slid back into deep slumber and he knew he wouldn’t see her again. He needed to find a solution to his problems.
February 18, 2004
It was a friday afternoon and the local arm of Murtala Muhammed airport was very rowdy. Most travellers were weekend travellers. Folabi was on his way to Abuja to board a virgin atlantic flight to Venice en-route London. He needed a break. He needed to pray or maybe he just needed to be alone. He had been told by his partner that there was a fast track for Club class card carrying members on local flights in Nigeria, so he stood at a vantage point and looked to see if he would see any such signs. His eyes roved to the east of the airport and something caught his attention. He saw a young boy holding his mom. The boy was looking at him and he thought he saw his mother’s face on the boy. The resemblance was striking but He shrugged and continued his search for the club class insignia.
Enitan removed her frames to be sure of who she saw staring at her son from a distance. His frame was unforgettable; He hadn’t changed much over the years. Folabi! Goose pimples crawled all over her. The moment he looked back at the boy again she quickly covered his face and dragged him off the queue.
Folabi caught her frame for a second. “Could this be Enitan?” The boy that caught his fancy was right beside her but this time his head was covered with a scarf. Alarm bells rang in his head as the lady carried the boy and fled towards the exit. He took the next exit and ran after but she made it inside a taxi before he could catch up with her. He flagged the next taxi down and told the driver to chase after black and yellow taxi ahead. It was rush hour and he was confident that he would soon discover what was happening.
The express way leading out of the airport was very free. The cab that carried the boy and the lady sped furiously and Folabi’s cab driver struggled to keep up. “Drive like a lagos driver”, Folabi shouted at the driver in vernacular. “Overtake the car and park them down”. The driver adjusted his black beret to the side, shifted his gear and the Toyot Corolla lurched forward at top speed. As they descended the bridge leading to Oshodi, Folabi’s driver after much struggle with the other taxi driver got a lead, edged his car a little to the right and when he slammed his break the other driver rammed his car into the front fenders of the Peugeot 505. “I will pay for all damages cars”, Folabi announced as he opened the door of his car. He had a full glimpse of the lady now. It was Enitan, but the boy’s face was still covered. She held the boy close as he got into her cab.
“Folabi, don’t call my name.”
“It’s been nine years now. Is this my son?” he felt stupid but he had to say something.
“You have a good sense of time, don’t you?”
They had to drive away from the accident spot when the driver mentioned that police would be there any moment.
“Can I see his face?” he asked.
“You will need to see my mother first”
Enitan instructed the driver in vernacular to take them to Ikeja.
“Do you still stay in Ikeja?” Folabi asked. Enitan drew the boy closer and looked away.
One hour of silence later the cab pulled over in front of the house Folabi was familiar with, off Adeniyi Jones Avenue. Enitan headed straight into the house with the boy’s face still covered and Folabi threw a pack of two hundred naira notes at the driver and ran after her.
Alero, Enitan’s mother looked up from behind the newspaper that covered her face. The moment she saw Enitan arrive with Olumide’s face covered and a man behind her she knew the day she had waited for since Olumide’s birth had arrived. With a mother’s instincts she knew this was Folabi. Olumide looked every bit like his father. She wanted to start screaming invectives at him, but time had healed the pain of yesteryears.
“And you must be an unsettled man by now”, she stared at him from behind her spectacles. “Very unsettled I presume”. Folabi wondered what the woman meant. He had never met her, but before he could respond Alero continued. “Young men like you ought to be taught bitter lessons in life. My daughter believed that one day you will be back. At least if not for her, you would come for your son. All I always told her was that you will remain unsettled until the day you set your eyes on him.”
Folabi did not know how to react. He was happy to hear that the little boy was his son, but he wasn’t sure if he was to show his excitement. His instincts told him he had to prostrate and beg Enitan’s mum. She was beginning to say things that scared him. For one, he knew she was right about him being an unsettled man..Enitan.. Oluchi, Kemi..And many others he had flings with. How unsettled could a man be? And at thirty six he had houses but no place to call home, and no woman to call a wife.
“Get up! This gesture would have been more honorable nine years ago.”
“Fate is on your side young man. I had said that you will remain unsettled until the day you set your eyes on this boy. Today, you are guest in this house where you defiled my daughter, broke her innocence and abandoned her for me to take care.”
“I am sorry ma”, Folabi said while on the floor.
“Thank God who made your paths cross for such a time as this. Get up. Follow me. “
Folabi followed her through the passage into the third room on the left wing of the bungalow. She opened the wardrobe and brings out an old one hundred pound note from under the books.
“Do you recognize this note?” she asked. He looked closely at the note as she unfolded it and spread it before his eyes. While his mind roved she said, “This is the one hundred pound note you gave Enitan to abort the pregnancy of her son. I have kept it since that day as a token of her stupidity and your irresponsibility. I had said that until you see this note and set your eyes on the boy, you will remain without a child of your own. Enitan is your business; you should have taken care of her”.
Folabi stood speechless for a long time, and tears trickled down his eyes when Enitan brought Olumide into the room. He carried him, and saw himself in the eyes of the little boy. He looked at Enitan, and with tears in his eyes he pleaded with her. “I am sorry; I realize I should have known better”. Enitan told him she had cried enough over the years. He was the one that needed to do the crying now, and move on with his life. She also told him she was getting married some weeks away, and that her fiancé would be happy to hear that her son’s father had finally showed up to see her son.
The only thing Folabi could say as he knelt beside his bed to pray twenty four hours after was ,“God I thank you for putting the pieces of my life back together again. I realize you have my times and seasons in your hands, so I am not afraid of tomorrow, and if tomorrow does not come I still have confidence that you will not leave me stranded today”.