The airport is noisy and full of activity but I’m oblivious to it. I’m thinking about my fight with Dayo. What did he mean by me making a statement? What exactly did he mean? Am I no longer welcome into the house? Is our marriage over? It’s scary to think these thoughts but I’m also angry. How dare he make such threats? Why is there suddenly a problem because I want to embrace a rare opportunity? Would we even debate this matter if it was him in my shoes?
I sigh and stare at the bustling crowd. Dayo is supposed to be far better than the average man. At least I think that’s the kind of man I married. Is he changing? Is marriage and financial pressure changing him into an insecure man?
And then I realize that we did not hug, kiss or say any kind words to each other. I sigh again as my anger gives way to regret. This family trouble is eating away at my enthusiasm for this opportunity. I love Dayo, why can’t he love me enough to be happy for me? Is it too much to ask for him to support me and appreciate all I’m doing for the family?
I bring out my phone from my handbag, maybe I should just send him a text. My phone vibrates in my hand and I realize that I’ve been staring at the keyboard, I don’t know what to say. I slide it back into my bag. It’s probably best if I call him later.
By the time I land in Kenya along with the rest of the team, I’m exhausted. But not too worn out to soak in the sights and sounds of the city, and I’m convinced that I made the right decision in taking up the offer.
I’m standing with my colleagues at the hotel lobby, waiting for the receptionist to check us in when I hear a familiar voice.
“Hi. Has my package been delivered?”
I look up from my phone and see Mr Martins, my neighbor, talking to another receptionist.
“No sir, I’ll let you know as soon as it’s done.”
I lower my head quickly and focus on my phone, I don’t want him to see me. I can’t believe that Mr Martins is here. Why is he here? Bimbo had said that he was in London, what’s he doing here and why isn’t he even back home already?
As the concierge leads us to the elevators, I wonder what I can do. How much longer is he here for? I think I’m going to call Bimbo, right after I call Dayo. As soon as I’m alone in my room, I dial Dayo’s number.
“Hello?” Dayo’s voice is cold.
“It’s me. I’m in Kenya.”
“Congratulations.” The line goes dead and I stare at the phone in shock. Dayo has never hung up on me, never.
I lie on the bed and sigh. I don’t want to fight with Dayo, I really don’t. But I’m beginning to get angry, I cannot tolerate this pettiness. Does he expect me to beg him to allow me to advance my career? I close my eyes and see Mr Martins in the lobby, Dayo was probably right in not supporting this trip, here I am in another country with the one person I should run away from.
I pick up my phone and dial Bimbo’s number.
“Hi! It’s Remi. I’m in Kenya.”
“Yaay! I’m glad to hear that. I hope you’re not too tired?”
“Well, I need to sleep.”
“Guess what? My husband is not yet back o! He said he had to be in Tanzania.”
My eyes open wider.
“What did you say?”
“I said Sola is not back yet. He had to make a stopover at Tanzania.”
“Yeah, I miss him! I had been waiting for him you know… ”
The rest of her words fade away as I think of what she’s just said. Why would her husband tell her that he’s in Tanzania when he’s right here in Kenya?
Three hours later I can’t sleep. The situation with Dayo is still bothering me and I realize that the silence in the room is forcing me to dwell on him. Frustrated, I go down to the lounge and bar.
“What can I get you ma’am?” the bartender asks.
“Can I just have a Coke?” I reply with a smile and focus on the jazz band playing in a corner.
“Hello.” I hear someone say behind me.
“Mr Martins!” I almost jump up and run back to my room.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to startle you…” he says grinning.
“No, it’s… it’s okay!” I force a laughter and tuck my hair behind my ears. “Err… what are you doing here sir?”
“I’m here for a meeting.” He simply says and stares at me.
“Can I sit down?”
He sits down by me and I can immediately smell his perfume. Why did I come here? What would we say? Why is he even here when I’m trying to get thoughts of him out of my head?
“Are you alright? You look lost in thought.” He asks.
“I’m fine, I just miss my family.”
“Oh! How long have you been here for?”
“I just got here actually… “
“And you’re already missing them?” he laughs. “You women!”
Just then the bartender places my drink in front of me.
“How would you like to pay for this ma’am?” he asks.
“Please charge it to Greenland Ltd’s account. My name is Aderemi Ige.”
He nods in response. “What will you have sir?”
“I’ll have a cold beer.”
I take a sip of my drink to prevent my hands from fidgeting with the coaster. I should just leave, after my drink I’ll make up an excuse and leave. It can’t be that hard, can it?
“So why are you here?” He asks.
“I’m here for an agricultural project, I’m part of the research team.” I reply proudly.
The bartender places his drink in front of him and I take another sip of mine. It’s time to go.
“I have a long day tomorrow, so I should head back to my room.”
“Didn’t you just get here?” He counters.
He laughs. “You’re not trying to run away from me are you?”
Is my discomfiture so obvious? “No! I’m just feeling tired and tomorrow will be busy for me…” I reply as convincingly as possible.
“Okay then, goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” I reply with a polite smile as I get up.
I inwardly applaud myself for doing the right thing, hopefully I won’t have to see him again.
The minute I take the first step, there’s a blackout.
“What?” he says in confusion. “Madam…?”
“Yeah, I’m still here.”
I’m really just waiting for the lights to come back on, the standby generator should kick in soon.
“Why don’t you sit down? I’m sure you don’t know your way around the hotel.”
I think I hear amusement in his voice but I ignore it and feel for the table in the dark, and our hands meet. He squeezes it slightly. Slowly I sit down while he still holds my hand.
“Thank you,” gently I pull my hand out of his.
“The generators should have come on by now…” he says.
“We apologize sir, the standby generator is faulty.” A voice which I recognize as the barman’s says. “This has never happened, we are very sorry.”
“So how soon can I go up to my room?” I ask. “Can you provide a torch or something?”
“Of course ma’am. I’ll be right back.”
We hear him shuffling off and I exhale slowly, there’s an awkward silence between Mr Martins and I.
“So…” he says in a drawl. “Do you like research?”
“Yes…” I reply in a wobbly voice. “I do.”
“Really? It sounds boring to me. I can’t imagine myself sitting in front of a computer and just reading endless information.”
I laugh. “I like information, I’m a very curious person so I enjoy reading endless information. I feel enlightened.”
“Hmm… and does it pay well?” I hear him gulping down his drink.
“Well it’s not bad, but it really depends on where you work. If you work for a company that has the funds to facilitate research then you get paid well but if you don’t…”
“You get peanuts.”
I laugh again.
“So which one’s yours?”
“Are you well paid or… managing peanuts?”
I really do think this man is being forward but I laugh nervously. “I’m in the middle. My pay is not so bad.”
“Hmm.” He seems to say more to himself.
From nowhere, someone bumps into me. I scream, afraid that I’m about to be assaulted in some way when the voice says.
“Oh dear, I’m sorry. Really sorry.”
It’s a drunk British sounding woman. She staggers away from me as I touch my sore back, I have hit it against the counter.
“Are you okay madam?” Mr Martins asks.
I feel his hand on mine, then on my back.
“Are you alright?” he asks again.
“I’m fine thank you, I just hit my back against this counter.” I reply, inching away from him so he gets the message that his touch is unwelcome. Is it really though? I cannot deny the fact that it’s gently enticing. He withdraws his hand but I can still feel him very close to me.
“I’m fine sir, really.”
“Can you please stop calling me sir?” he says in a breathy voice.
I laugh uncomfortably, this is getting awkward. Yet, his attention is unexpectedly flattering. My heart is beating faster, what is going on here?
The lights come on and like a flash of lightning, he’s back in his seat with an expressionless look on his face, it’s almost as if he was never by my side.
I gasp. “Thank God!”
“Wow, am I that boring?”
“No, no, not at all. I just… I need to sleep.”
“Too bad, I was enjoying your company.” He says with a mysterious look in his eyes.
I smile uncomfortably. “Thank you.”
“Too bad I won’t have the pleasure of your company. I’m leaving tomorrow.”
I smile very widely, feeling very relieved. “I’m sure Bimbo will be happy to see you.”
“Yeah.” He replies with a cryptic smile.
“Alright, goodnight sir.”
“Please… call me Sola.”
I smile tightly, is he kidding me? “Alright. Goodnight.”
As I walk away, conscious of his stare. I ask myself if what I think is going on is going on. Is Mr Martins
flirting with me?