Lola Opatayo

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The Family Part 35


Dear reader, this is the end of the series. Thank you for coming along with me on this journey, I always appreciate every kind word and constructive criticism.

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“Don’t worry, you’ll have more children. I’m sure this happened because you were stressed.” Mama said compassionately to Gbemi who was lying on the hospital bed, staring at the ceiling. It had happened so fast, she’d been sweeping when she felt sudden spasms of pain, thinking that she had probably eaten something that upset her stomach, she continued her work until she could no longer tolerate the pain. Two hours later, the remnants of her pregnancy had been evacuated and she was sedated. The doctor said she’d had an ectopic pregnancy and was lucky that her fallopian tubes weren’t damaged, she could still go on to have a healthy pregnancy.
“Gbemi, you’re not saying anything?” Mama said.
Gbemi had a lot to say, she just didn’t think that the old woman would appreciate it. She’d almost died, and for what? An old woman holding on to her control of her son’s house. The son in question wasn’t even interested in her. He hadn’t said a word to her or acted as if he’d ever been intimate with her. She was suddenly unimportant, Mama’s gamble had failed. She had been left with a pregnancy that the chief obviously didn’t want and despised by everyone except Mama. Gbemi had gained nothing.
Chief Afonja walked into the hospital room.
“Ah ah Chief!” Mama said angrily. “You’re just coming here since the time I called you?”
“Sorry maami.” He replied unrepentantly. “Can you give us some time to talk?”
Mama was happy to hear this. Her son had refused to acknowledge the girl ever since he heard of her pregnancy.
“Oh yes!” she got up slowly. “Take care of her, don’t blame her for what happened. There will be other babies.”
Chief Afonja smiled cheerlessly.
As soon as Mama was out of the room the chief sat in her place and stared at the girl who looked fearfully at him.
“How are you feeling?” he asked without affection.
“Fine sir.”
“Good. What do you want?”
“I want you out of my house, what do you want?”
“I don’t want anything sir.” She replied nervously. “It’s Mama that brought me here…”
The chief smiled, understanding her accurately. All she wanted was for him to talk to his mother to let her go. She wanted to leave.
“Okay. Rest well.”
Niniola was sad, Dele had been right after all. She’d passed her exams but fell short of the required mark to qualify for a scholarship. She had done her best and failed.
But Comfort was proud of her daughter. She’d done something that had been beyond her exposure and experience and passed. That was enough for her.
“I’m proud of you Niniola. You did your best and I know it. You’ll go to a university here and maybe go abroad for your Masters. I know it’s not what you wanted but at least you tried. You did something you didn’t think you could do. You passed, you did well.”
Niniola sighed and tried to be comforted by her mother’s words.
Rhoda was in her new apartment. She sat on a plastic chair, holding one of the twins.
“Mummy there’s nothing in this house!” Elizabeth said angrily. “Why did we come here?”
“We’ll get chairs soon.” Rhoda explained.
“But why did we come here? Why are we just moving around?” the girl persisted.
Rhoda didn’t have an answer for her, but it struck her that her daughter could sense the instability of her life. Yimika was in a corner drawing a truck, she still found it hard to believe how talented he was at so early an age. His therapy was going on well, but with her present situation, she wondered if she would be able to continue with it. The twins were almost a year old and she knew that in a matter of months, they would have to start attending a crèche.
The sudden weight of her responsibilities hit her and she realized that she was solely responsible for her four children. Even though she had a growing business, she wasn’t sure that she could do it all alone. Yet she was too ashamed to go back to Chief, she didn’t think that he would take her back. Even she was unwilling to go back.
“Mummy, so what are we going to do now?” Elizabeth asked, with her hands on her waist.

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Gbemi held her bags in her hand, anxious to get out of the house.
“Let her stay.” Mama pleaded. “You need her.”
“For what Maami? I haven’t needed any other woman apart from Mama Deji.”
“You don’t need that one…”
“Obviously I do. She’s the only one who has stayed and hasn’t caused me any grief, but I was too proud to see it. Maami, take this girl out of my house.”
“Are you chasing me out?”
“No I’m not. I’m just telling you that enough is enough.”
“Enough is enough?”
“Yes maami, enough is enough. Please take her with you.”
Mama hoisted her bag on to her shoulder and quietly walked out of the building without another word. Her worst nightmare had come to pass, her son had challenged her authority.
Biola found her life with Lekan as charming as she had hoped. Foot rubs, kind words, numerous dates and the loving attention he gave her boys were things she had only dreamed of in previous years. She asked herself several times why she hadn’t walked away from chief sooner than when she had. Her boys were enjoying the new attention that Lekan gave them, they spent the evening of the weekends playing table tennis and talking about manhood. Biola was truly happy.
The only problem the new family faced was Lekan’s sudden headaches. He complained of migraines for hours and had to use strong analgesics to numb the pain. Biola couldn’t understand why he complained of these migraines all of a sudden.
“I think we should go to the hospital.” She said to him one night after he had recovered from another migraine.
“It’s just stress. I need to rest a lot more than I am.”
“Lekan I think this is more than stress, the way you moan when you’re in pain is almost unbearable. Please let’s go to the doctor. If nothing is wrong, then at least we’ll know that you probably just have to take things easy.”
“Okay.” He had replied weakly.
And that was the beginning of their troubles. Like Biola suspected, something was seriously wrong with Lekan. He had a malignant brain tumor that nothing could be done about, the doctor told them gravely that he had less than a year to live.
Biola was heartbroken, she had found love but it was too late. She would watch the love of her life suffer a painful and debilitating sickness before he finally died. It wasn’t fair, life wasn’t fair.
“It’s not fair!” she cried bitterly.
“Let’s make the most of the time we have.” Lekan said sorrowfully, unable to be strong for the both of them. He wasn’t ready to die.
“Will you marry me Biola?” he suddenly said.
“Of course, of course I will.”
It should have been a happy moment, but the both of them simply held each other and cried. Biola could not imagine life without him.
Mama Deji had seen Gbemi and Mama drive out of the compound through her bedroom window. She shook her head in amazement and sat on her bed. It was just her and her husband in the house, just like it was at the beginning, before the wealth and chieftaincy title. She started to cry slowly because she’d never thought that it would happen, and she’d just been about to give up on her family.
But what did this mean? She’d have to talk with him but what would she say? She’d have to keep the house like she used to but was she willing to do this? And her conjugal duties, could she bring herself to resume them?
Mama Deji realized that she no longer loved her husband. All he was to her was the father of her children, he was her husband in name only.
“What have I done?” She asked herself. “How will I live with this man?”
As if on cue, Chief Afonja opened the door to his wife’s room and sat on the bed beside her.
“There’s nobody else in the house.” He said heavily.
“I know.” She replied.
“It’s just the two of us…”
“I know.”
“Will you leave me?”
“I don’t know.”
“Please don’t leave.” He said in a small voice.
“I don’t know how to live with you.” She replied after a while.”
There was an awkward silence between them.
“I think you should reach out to Rhoda, she needs help.”
He nodded and sighed.
They sat in her room for a while, he asking random questions and she answering in few words. Not once did they look at each other.

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