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THE CROSS I CARRY (EPISODE 5)

Wednesday, 4 April 2018



Episode 5


“Don’t bother yourself with too much prayer,” he interrupts me, “you are only reaping the seed you have sown. Just down your wine.”
Rotimi diverts the conversation to family life. He asks after my wife and child. I told him I don’t have any baby yet. He is surprised. He says he had a female kid some months back. He further says that his wife and the new born baby are now in Paris, spending some time with his mother.
I hit the road back as I leave Rotimi’s office. Today would be the last day to drive this trash if Rotimi fulfills his promise to me.

Oh, Titi will be very happy to hear this great news!
First of all, I will open a boutique for her in the heart of the town. After making profit from the business, I will build or buy a mansion in a place like Lekki phase-1 or Dolphin estate. I want Titi to bear my first child in the U.S. Lara has been a nice girl to me. I will send her abroad to conclude her education … Anyway, I shouldn’t start counting my chickens before they are hatched.
I am getting home by past nine in the night. Titi usually returns from shop by 7pm. I notice there are some missing pictures on the wall of the living room. I smile. Titi must have done sanitation in the house today. In the bedroom, the wardrobe top is also scanty. I’m only seeing just two pairs of shoe in Titi’s shoe save. I hang my T-shirt on the hanger after taking off my shoe. I feel like resting, but I think I have to see Titi for the good news. I make my way to the kitchen. She is not there.
“Sweetie, I am back!” I say as I walk towards the shower. I check the shower. Empty.
I do not bother myself again. I lie on the bed to rest a little. Titi must be around; perhaps with our flat mate, Elizabeth. That is the only friend she has in the house.
“Uncle Dele!” Lara’s voice jerk me to consciousness from my drowsiness, “So you are back.”

I sit up sleepily, “Omolara … where is Titilayo?”
Lara’s face glares with puzzlement at my question, “She didn’t tell you she is travelling today?”
“No!” I reply with confusion, “travelling to where?”
Lara shrugs, “I wouldn’t know … I just saw her pack her loads inside a taxi this afternoon. When I asked her whereabouts, she said you have already known the place, and it’s confidential.”
“What! Titi said so?”
“Yes.” Lara nods with a look of surprise on her face, “You mean you don’t know about it?”
I dip my hand into my pocket, “Don’t worry. Let me call her number.”
I dial the number twice. It’s not reachable. I dial it again. I can hear it ring, but no response till it enters voice mail. I redial once more. The phone barely rings this time before I hear her voice from the receiver.

“Hello, Titi where are you?” I say in a calm voice.
The next thing I hear is a laughter – a prolonged one.
“I said where are you?!” My voice thunders this time.
“Don’t kill yourself with hypertension,” She says, “If you want to know where I am, Open your wardrobe and see.”
“Are you kidding me? What does my wardrobe have to do with where you are.”
“Just do as I say. Okay?” She says.
Without a further fuss, I headed straight to the wardrobe.

I open the wardrobe almost with force. There is nothing there apart from my cloths! But a piece of paper falls from somewhere. Slowly I pick up the folded paper. I unfold it. It becomes Titi’s handwriting. The content goes like this:
“Dear Bamidele,
I am using this moment to tell you that I am off your life for good. I can’t cope with this suffering any longer. I have already met a man who is ready to take care of me. I can’t bear my first child for a mere truck driver who can be sacked any day. It’s so fortunate for me that I didn’t get pregnant before you turned like this. I think God really loves me.
I have actually been using contraceptive drugs since when things suddenly changed. That is the reason why I have been avoiding any s-x from you lately. I apologize if I have hurt you with that. Go and cancel our courtship. I am wedding my new man very soon. Don’t bother to look for me at all. I am now living in paradise. Concerning the phone that caused disagreement between us in the morning, my sweet heart bought it for me, and he sent that message you saw too. I know how you will feel after reading this letter. May God provide you with your own wife … Bye.”
Tears roll down my cheeks as I shake my head, “Why would Titi behave like this? why don’t you have enough patience?”

“Uncle, what is the matter? Why the tears?” Lara moves close to me, “ May I see what’s inside the paper?”
I hand the letter to Lara. Her mouth turns agape with shock after reading it. I intentionally let her read it. I really want Lara to learn from what I’m about to reveal to her.
“Uncle, don’t dwell upon it,” Lara sits beside me at the edge of the bed where I’ve bowed my head, “May God enrich you with wealth and provide for you a faithful and everlasting wife … I believe sister Titilayo is not meant for you. Otherwise she will stand by you under any condition … And Granny once told me about two categories of women before her death. The first one is like a chameleon who is adapted to any environmental condition; even the time when danger is at hand… The second is a bird of heron. A bird of heron would fly off when a wetland turns a desert… I think sister Titilayo falls into the latter category. ”
I was surprised to hear that from Lara; a nineteen-year-old girl? I don’t need to tell her my mind again. She has said it all.

“Thank you, Omolara,” I reveal my face with a small smile, “that is a wise word from you. I won’t think about it. okay?”
Lara asks what food I feel like eating. I told her I have no appetite. She gives me a questioning look that suggests: “Are you still brooding over it?”
“I know you are still thinking about it.” She echoes my thought at last.
“No, I am not.” I protest, “I am just stuffed for now. Thank you.”
Lara bids me good night, and I reply in a cheerful voice. When Lara had gone, I check my phone again. I keep staring at the alert of thirty million in my account. I shake my head with a distress mixed with joy. The joy is for the money, and the sadness, of course, is for my wayward Love.
At daybreak I decide to call Titi’s parents for what their daughter had just done. But I remember that her father has a mental problem. I learnt that excessive weed-smoking turns him like that. He had been moved to many psychiatric hospitals for treatment, but he still behaves abnormal. Most times when you are telling him about A, he would talk about B.
On one occasion when I went to their house, I saw him watching TV. I greeted him and he responded well. At one instant, I noticed him lift up his leg while using his toes to press the remote control. I asked him why he refused to use his fingers. Then he told me his hand didn’t produce any result on the TV screen. When I checked the remote, I realized there was no battery in it. The old man was not even present on our wedding day. He was replaced with his elder brother. So I have no choice than to report Titi to her mother.

“Hello, ma’am.”
“Hello o,” says Titi’s Mum, from the receiver, “hope there is no problem?”
“There is, Ma.” My voice falls brutally, but the woman’s voice sounds rather aggressive. It is unlike her. Over the years she would respond with: “Hello, my wonderful son in-law.”
“Okay. what is the matter?” She asks.
“Mama, Titi had packed her luggage to another man’s house.”
“Really? When?”
“Yesterday, Ma.”
Then the woman says bluntly, “anyway, She had come to report you to me several times. She said you don’t take care of her, and she doesn’t want you to ruin her beauty. The advice I gave her was to take any action that would favour her… But I don’t know about this.”
“I’m taking care of her the best way I can, Mama,” my voice trembles with tears in it, “ and, besides, there is no sign of suffering on her. Mama, I love Titi so much. Why must she betray me?”
“Are you asking me that? Whichever way, I will call her and talk to her. If she doesn’t turn up, I don’t know what to do. I can’t force her on you.”
I refuse to say any more word. I just drop the phone on the bed. This woman is so obnoxious! she is now showing her real character to me. It sounds like she knows about her daughter’s whereabouts. Before I married Titi her parents were living in a rented flat apartment, and I gave them money to build a house of their own. I think some mother-in-laws are really devils!

Four weeks passed, I receive no call from Titi’s mother. I’d tried the woman’s number countless times, but she wouldn’t pick up the phone, and I didn’t bother to call her again. I think I should stop deceiving myself.
Although, over the weeks, I had gone to my church to give testimony, and I received a blessing from the pastor for the business I was about to do. Now I’m a proud owner of a car depot. Rotimi had added 25 million naira to the money two weeks ago. I never know that a friend like him still exists on this planet.
I still remain in my rented apartment. When I make enough profit I will build a house of my own. The car I’m riding now is the latest Toyota corolla.
On this certain night I am lying on the bed, deep in thought. At that moment I hear a knock at the door. I ask the person to come in. I am shocked to see Titi. She moves close to me timidly with her luggage. As I sit up to rage at her like a storm, she collapses to her two knees.
“I … I have not come to deceive you this time,” she says in a weak voice, “I am very sorry, my love. I know I have hurt you, but please find a place in your heart to forgive me.”

After a long pause of devastation, my voice booms like a gun, “I can’t just believe you can do what you did, Titi! With all your promises to me… How can I ever trust you again?”
Titi burst into tears; her eyes appear to me like a dark cloud that let loose a heavy rain.

“I promise. I will never try to betray your love again,” Titi says tearfully, “Any air I breathe, I breathe them for you, baby. I realize that you are the light that feeds the sun in my world. You are my soul. You are my every….”
“Ss-ssh!” I interrupt her as she rattles on. I place my finger over her lips, and I draw her closer. Slowly I turn her face up. Her lips tremble, obviously yearning for a kiss. In her captivating eyeballs I can see paradise. I know she is afraid. I ease the tension for her by aiming my lips towards hers. Now she is holding my head closer and closer….
“Uncle Dele, the food is ready!” A voice from a far distance halts me as our lips are about to clash.
“Uncle, wake up!”
A touch on my feet yank me back to my right senses. I touch my lips as I sit up from the bed.
“Have I been dreaming or hallucinating?”I mutter to myself after Lara left for the dinning.
I take a deep breath. I have been dreaming about this girl over the past four weeks. No matter what I do her thought would sneak to my mind.
“I need to uproot all her thoughts from my mind and start a new life.” I say to myself.
The only way I think I can get rid of her memory is to keep drinking myself to oblivion for many weeks. It does work for me. I really need to go and take some bottles of wines tonight as well. I don’t pray to dream about her again. If she ever comes back I shall never take her. That dream must be very stupid!
I take a glance on my wrist watch. 8:30pm. Then I head for a hotel down the town.
Approaching the hotel club, I hear the sound of music setting fire of life into the atmosphere as usual. The rocking beats send many people swaying on their seats like leaves that can’t resist the blow of the wind. The music playing now is ‘I love my baby’ by Wizkid.
People of different ranks maintain their reserved places inside the club. The men of affluence have their separate gathering at one end of the club; their center tables are littered with expensive wines. The disco light flickers over and over. Through its multi-colour reflections I can see ladies of different statures, twisting their buttocks in front of their men, or rather their concubines.

I decide to take my seat at the verandah of the club. The place is a bit silent. I can feel the tender fingers of the breeze caressing my skin. I am the only one sitting at the circle of five deck-chairs. Some ladies are sitting at the circle of chairs not too far from me. They are seven in number.
One of the bartenders soon hurries towards my table. I order for three bottles of champagne. And in next to no time, they are placed in front of me. I gulp two fills from the goblet, and I relax myself.
Now I can see some of the ladies stealing backward glances at me while pointing fingers. To them, they are doing that secretly, but I notice it all. One of them dip her finger in her mouth as she casts an amorous look towards me, and another keeps flaunting the wisps of her long hair. I begin to wonder why ladies always shoot seductive looks at me anywhere I am; even right from my teenage! Perhaps it’s because of my tallness, pleasing masculine features, and finally my built physique complemented by a fair skin.
My eyes suddenly fixes on one particular lady. She is sitting between those two girls I am seeing directly. very fast my heart beat as I drink in that angelic sight.
Can people be so alike? She really shares same features with Jumoke, my first lover, who I lost about 17 years back. She died from typhoid fever. I nearly drank a poison the day I heard about Jummy’s death. Our housemaid came just in time to save me from untimely death. I couldn’t believe I could get over her thought, but with a continuous drunkenness her memory dissolved to a low rate. Now the memory is haunting me back at the sight of this enchantress.

Through the reflection of the streetlights far behind them, I can see the smiles that spread across her face. It’s just like that of my long lost Love! I think people are created double… I take a long sigh, and I begin to fill my empty wine cup.
“Oh my goodness!” I have spilled the wine all over the table and it slushes on my cloth. I bow my head, using my hand to tap it off for almost one minute, but it doesn’t seem to help matter. “I need to call this bar man for a hand towel.”
“You may use this handkerchief to wipe it off.” A gentle feminine voice says from above me, and I reveal my face to behold the good Samaritan.


She is one of those girls that were looking at me… a teenage girl. I guess she is less than eighteen. But she seems to have a big stature. She is gorgeously and decently dressed. Reluctantly I receive the white handkerchief.
“That you so much, Miss.” I flash a smile at her.
“Don’t mention, sir.” She smiles timidly, “ I wonder why you are sitting here alone.”
“You mean me?” I reveal my face from the cleaning with a welcoming smile.
“Yes,” she affirms shyly, “why not sit close to the more lively area over there.” She points towards the set of seats next to their gathering.
“Oh, nothing. Never mind,” I smile, “this very spot is my favourite; Perhaps it’s because of the palm tree behind here. The air feels more refreshing here too… by the way, what’s the name of this young princess?”
“I’m Shewa.”
“That name really befits you, you know…” I say simply with a questioning look.
“Thanks … Anyway, my sister actually asked me to give you the handkerchief.”
“Really? Who is your sister?”

“She is the fair lady on a purple top and a pink bandanna.”
I look straight to confirm the person. I am stunned to realize that it’s the lady that just caught my heart. She diverts her face somewhere else the moment I look towards her.
“Please, can you help me tell your sister I would like to thank her personally?”
“Yeah, why not,” says the girl, enthusiastically. She immediately waves into the air when the least I expect from her is to go whisper to her ears.
The lady sees the gesture, and she pats the girl that is seated beside her on the shoulder. The lady springs to her feet and adjusts her wears. Shewa ascertains that she is really calling her; not the other lady.
Then she takes to her feet elegantly and the other lady sits back slowly. I guess she is really embarrassed, for she supports her cheeks with her two hands while she stares gloomily at her friend.
As the lady walks closer, my heart drums loudly and my eyelids seem to dance to the rhythms. I mean my eyes are really fluttering. She appears more beautiful than what I was seeing from afar.
At that moment her sibling begin to walk away. I quickly call her back and thank her once more. When my heart-throb reaches me I tell her I appreciate her good gesture.

She wears that killing smile again and says: “Don’t mention. I just felt obliged to do that.”
Wow! Her voice sounds very pleasant. And funny enough the voice might not be thrilling for singing; maybe I should try her. I also like a girl that has a nice singing voice. My late Jumoke was the only girlfriend that is endowed with that so far.
“Are you into music?” I am forced to ask her.
“Why did you ask?” She beams.
“I think I’m just curious.”
She seems to be pulsing her lips invitingly while turning her catchy eyeballs. It’s like she is searching for the right way to answer me.
“I wonder if you can sit here for a moment,” I show her the chair across my seat, “that is … if you wouldn’t mind.”

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