Ajoke was about retiring to bed when her phone rang. She wondered who could be calling her at 9.00p.m. She had gotten home tired but her kids were not ready to let her be. They had missed her and they wanted to chat with her before going to bed. Even though, Iya Ajoke had tried to shoo them away, they had persisted. Eventually, Ajoke had to listen to their gists about school and all that had happened in the last one month while she was away.
She picked up the call after the third ring. “Hello.” She said.
“Hi Ajoke, is it a bad time to call?”
“Hi Enitan.” She said recognizing his voice. “It’s okay. I was just wondering who could be calling me at this time of the day.”
“If it is too late, I can call back tomorrow.” Enitan replied.
“No, it is fine.”
“I just wanted to check up on you.”
“Aww…thanks. I appreciate the gesture.” Ajoke said smiling.
“And erm…I wanted to ask if you would still go out to dinner with me?” Enitan asked unsure of what her answer would be.
Ajoke laughed. “Enitan, do you give up?”
“No, I don’t.” He said breathing a sigh of relief when he heard her laugh. “Is 6p.m tomorrow a good time?”
“I’ll pick you at home.” Enitan replied.
“But you don’t even know where I live.” Ajoke said laughing.
“Should we bet on it?”
Ajoke stopped laughing. “You know where I live? Have you been stalking me?”
“Hey relax.” Enitan said when he noticed the tone of her voice had changed. “I know where you live, I mean the street but I don’t know your house. And to your second question; no, I have not been stalking you.”
“So how do you know the street I live on?”
“I visited a friend who lives around your area some months back. We were walking out of his house when I saw you. I asked him if he knew you and he said not really but he pointed your street out to me.”
“Am I supposed to believe you?” Ajoke asked.
“I cross my heart, I have not lied to you.”
“Okay, 6p.m. Call me when you are close by.”
“Thanks Ajoke. I really appreciate this.”
Ajoke grunted. “I hope I don’t regret this.”
“Why would you? I would never hurt you.” Enitan said almost in a whisper.
“See you at 6 tomorrow. I need to catch some sleep.”
“Thanks. Sweet dreams.”
Ajoke refused to respond and ended the call.
The next day, Enitan was on Ajoke’s street at about five minutes to six. He parked his car and whipped out his phone from his pocket. “Hi Ajoke, I am on your street. I am by the Majestic shopping complex.” He said when she picked up his call on the first ring.
“Okay, that’s a long walk from my house.”
“I can come closer. Where exactly is your house?”
“It is way down the road; two blocks from the health centre.” She said.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Ajoke looked at herself in the mirror. She was wearing one of the dresses Kokumo had bought for her. She hugged herself as she thought of him. It had been a while she heard from him. The last time, he had sent her a text message that he had a daughter. She had responded with congratulations. A week later, he sent her another text informing her about his daughter’s names. She had refused to respond this time. The thought of another woman having a child for him was enough to dampen her spirit. He still credited her account at the end of every month and she wondered when he would stop.
A knock on her door brought her back to reality. “Mummy, you have a visitor.” She heard her daughter say.
That was fast; she thought. She took one last look at the mirror. She had applied light make-up and she looked simply dressed. She sighed as she opened the door and walked out of her room. Her daughter was standing outside the door. “Do you have a date, mummy?” She asked.
Ajoke smiled. At thirteen, Adebola was becoming self-aware. She always looked out for her mum and her brother, Adegbenro. “Yes dear. Something of the sort.”
“You look beautiful.” Adebola said.
“Thank you darling.” Ajoke replied as she hugged her daughter.
She held her daughter’s hand as they walked into the living room together.
“Hi, you look stunning.” Enitan said standing up. Ajoke noticed he had been talking to her son and she wondered what they could be talking about. She also wondered how he knew the exact house she lived in. She however, decided to keep her thoughts to herself.
She gave her son a puzzled look as she greeted Enitan. “Hi Enitan.”
“I was chatting with Adegbenro.” Enitan said smiling when he noticed the look that passed between mother and son. “Are you ready?” He asked.
“Yes, I am.” She said hesitantly.
Adegbenro stood up and hugged his mum. “Have fun.”
“Thank you.” She said.
“Bye mummy. We would wait up, okay?” Adebola said.
“Okay dear.” Ajoke responded as she waved to her kids and walked out of the house with Enitan behind her.
As soon as they stepped out of the house, she turned to look at him. “What were you two talking about?”
“Men stuff.” Enitan smiled.
“Like what?” She said rolling her eyes.
Enitan suddenly burst out into laughter.
Ajoke stopped walking and looked at him in confusion. “What is funny?”
“I love the way you just rolled your eyes. It makes you look sexy.”
“Ahh…” Ajoke said with shock.
“C’mon, let’s go have dinner.” Enitan said holding her hand so she could continue walking.
They got to a white Toyota Corolla and Enitan pressed the unlock button on the remote in his hands. He opened the door for Ajoke when he noticed that she stood before the car and kept looking at it. She was speechless and she looked at him when he signaled for her to go into the car. She eased into the car and Enitan closed the door before jogging to the driver’s side.
“You don’t need to say it. I know what’s on your mind.” Enitan smiled as he started the car.
Ajoke looked at him quietly.
“It’s intentional not to drive to school. So I jump buses like every other student.”
“Hey, loosen up. This is me; I ain’t hiding any other thing.”
“Really?” Ajoke asked with sarcasm.
“Cross my heart.” Enitan said as he did a sign of the cross on his chest.
In a few minutes, they arrived at a classy restaurant and sat at a table for two. The waiters brought a menu for them and they both ordered a light dinner. They made small talk about school while they awaited their dinner. They were through with their dinner and were sipping their drinks as Ajoke spoke about her expectations of their last year in school.
Enitan smiled as Ajoke spoke.
Ajoke looked behind her. “Why are you smiling?” She said as she turned back to look at him.
“I really do like you a lot.”
“Hellooo, we were talking about school?” Ajoke said with sarcasm.
“Yeah, I know. Ajoke, I have watched you this past years and I can’t deny the way I feel about you. Coming to your house today has opened my eyes to see you in a different light.”
“Where is all this coming from?”
“From my heart.” Enitan said as he held her hands on the table.
“I don’t understand. What did you see in my house and what is all this about?”
“Let me take care of you, Ajoke.”
Ajoke pulled her hands from his grip. “I don’t need anyone to take care of me.”
“You are the only one who thinks so.”
“What are you saying? Does this have anything to do with your discussion with Adegbenro? What men stuff did you two talk about?”
“Hey, take it easy.” Enitan said laughing.
“This is not funny, Enitan. Can we leave now?” Ajoke said getting angry.
“Ajoke….” Enitan said stressing her name. “Do I upset you that much?”
Ajoke closed her eyes and exhaled. She was beginning to like him and she actually did not know why she was upset with him.
Enitan stood up and stretched his hand towards her. “Let me take you home.”
Ajoke took his extended hand and they walked out of the restaurant.
Ajoke was quiet all through the journey home. She looked out of the passenger window and refused to make eye contact with Enitan. Enitan also decided to leave her to her thoughts. He loved her but he could not tell her just yet. He reminisced on his discussion with her son. Adegbenro had asked him who he was and he had told him he was her course mate and a friend.
Adegbenro had asked him if he was taking her out on a date and he had responded in the affirmative.
“What are your intentions with my mother?”
Enitan had been shocked to hear the word “mother” but he had smiled to conceal his shock.
“I like her a lot and I just want to be friends with her.”
“Don’t mess with my mum. She’s all we’ve got.” Adegbenro had warned him.
He had looked at the young man before him. He loved his confidence and the way he looked out for his mother. There had to be a story behind her having two kids and no husband. He looked round the living room to see if he would see the picture of their father assuming she was a widow but there was none.
Enitan parked his car in front of Ajoke’s house. She was about to open the door when Enitan stopped her and took her hand. She looked at him and was scared of what she saw in his eyes. No, this is not happening again. Enitan kissed her hand and dropped it carefully. “Thanks for the company.” He said.
Ajoke was at a loss for what to say. “Thanks for the dinner.” She said and stepped out of the car.
Her kids were already at the door by the time she got to her door step. They hugged her and welcomed her back. While Ajoke and Adebola walked in, Adegbenro stood at the door and looked at Enitan. Enitan smiled and nodded at him while Adegbenro nodded back; an unspoken agreement between the two. Enitan put the gear in reverse and drove out of Ajoke’s residence.
By Bukola Adekusibe
THE WAIT continues
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