The visit to her parent’s house had been an emotional roller coaster as she had envisaged. She and her mother had dodged each other and tried not to step on each other’s toes throughout the three-day stay, her father had subtly asked her about her non-existent romantic relationship, and Korede had played the umpire, diplomatically making sure that everyone kept smiling. Only Hope had thoroughly enjoyed her stay, despite the fact that she could sense the subtle tension amongst the adults, especially when her grandmother and mother were in the same room. It had however been a joy for Jumoke to see Mama Yellow, she was ready with her warm smile and gentle attitude.
She forced herself to snap out of the memories of the weekend and focus on her friend Gloria. They lived together in a three-bedroom flat that Jumoke found shortly after her return from the United States three years before.
“Jumoke I’m telling you, you need to taste the food in that restaurant. It’s sooo good!”
“I’m sure it is.” She replied tonelessly.
“So why do you look distracted?”
“I’m alright, it’s just been a long week.”
“You’ve been like this ever since you got back from your parents. what is it about your family that makes you so sad?”
Jumoke stared blankly at her friend and wondered how she should respond. “It’s really a long story… that I don’t want to go into.”
Gloria let out an exasperated sigh. “You’re difficult to understand you know?”
“I know, and that’s why you love me!”
“Duh! I’m only tolerating you because I don’t want to be homeless.” Gloria said, getting up and taking her plate to the kitchen.
“Just admit it! you love me!”
“Let me tell what you need.” Gloria said from the kitchen.
“Don’t tell me! I need a man to sweep me off my feet right?” she replied with sarcasm.
“Of course! Well let me tell you what happens when a man sweeps a woman off her feet. She falls flat to the ground.”
“Oh Jumoke! Not everyone is lke the fool who fathered Hope you know… give love a chance.”
Again Jumoke stared at her friend. They didn’t talk about Hope’s father, it was an unspoken rule. She never wanted to think or talk about him and Gloria knew that. Yet, here she was bringing him up to make her point.
“I know, I’m not supposed to talk about him.” she said as if reading her mind. “But you really need to move on! How long are you going to let him have such a hold on you?”
“Nobody has a hold on me.”
“That’s what you think.” Gloria flopped down on the couch beside her and looked earnestly into her eyes. “Are you happy Jumoke? I mean apart from your amazing job at Brighton Consulting and your beautiful daughter are you happy?”
“Do I look like I’m lacking something?”
“You know what?” She said rising up and snatching her phone from the glass stool by her knee. “I need to go to bed, I have to be up early tomorrow.”
Gloria sighed and let her go, the conversation was over.
Gbemi, Remi and Lanre Williams sat at the dining table each preoccupied with their own thought. Their mother Mrs Funke Williams, looked sternly at each child, hoping that they were thinking of doing the right thing. After being diagnosed with high blood pressure, their father had summoned them from the US and the United Kingdom to come and take over the family business.
“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you.” she said seriously. “We have been saying this for years, and invested a lot into seeing this beome a reality. You all can’t say you’re not interested, it would be selfish and ungrateful of you to do that. And what do you tell your children? That you allowed their legacy to be lost because you were too busy building someone else’s legacy?”
Lanre sighed. “Mum it’s not like that…”
“Think about the fact that you all can take the family business to greater heights! Greater than your father or I have ever dreamed! You have the qualifications and the knowledge. Why would you spend so much time building someone else’s legacy when you can build yours? Think about that, all of you.”
With that, she got up and left them to continue thinking on the idea of quitting their individual jobs so that they could use their skills to continue the family business.
“She’s right you know, we have what it takes to do this.” Gbemi said. “I’m in, if you guys are.”
Remi and Lanre looked at each other and looked away. For them, taking this decision was much more than quitting their jobs, it was about setting aside their differences and working together.
“Hope! Jumoke!” Gloria called, throwing her bag on the couch and taking off her jacket. “Hope? Please sit down.” She said to her guest. “They’re probably listening to music or something.”
“Alright.” He said and sat down.
In her room, Jumoke and Hope were watching a comedy series and snacking on popcorn when Gloria burst in.
“I’ve been calling you guys!”
“Sorry, we didn’t hear you.” Hope said.
“You look excited.” Jumoke replied suspiciously. “What’s’ going on?”
“I brought him here since you won’t meet him.”
“Who? Who did you bring?” Jumoke asked with slight annoyance.
“Derick. The guy I’ve been telling you about…? The one at the supermarket…”
Jumoke’s mouth was agape. “Hope…” she eventually said. “Give us a minute will you? Go to your room.”
Jumoke glared at her and the girl flew off the bed.
“You brought a total stranger into my house?” she said when the door was closed.
Gloria sighed. “Jumoke, don’t be like this. I told you I met him at the supermarket and he happened to be the person who parked right next to me at church the next morning. He’s a nice guy and I think you guys will do well together. If it makes you feel better, he’s very mature and principled.”
“So why is he here at this time?”
“Long story short, my car broke down after church this evening. He gave me a ride home.”
Jumoke shook her head unbelievingly, wishing that Gloria hadn’t done this. “Okay.” She acquiesced. “Just hello and I’m gone.”
“Great!” Gloria replied triumphantly. “Why don’t you put on some powder?”
Jumoke gave her a withering look.
Jumoke looked threateningly at her.
“Okay, maybe not. You already look great, you look beautiful enough. I mean you always look beautiful, I’m not saying you look fair or something like that. I just mean that…”
“Gloria?” Jumoke said rising to her feet. “You’re rambling, stop rambling.”
“Of course!” she replied, glad to see htat her friend had even obliged her.
In the living room, Derick Dede sat with his elbows on his knees. Would this lady come out? It had been almost twenty minutes. He looked around and appreciated the dark theme of the room. He heard a bustling and saw Gloria come in with a pretty fair skinned lady. She had a small stature, but had the most attractive body he’d seen. She was simply dressed in ankle length jeans and a dark brown t-shirt, her hair fell to her shoulders and even though she had no make-up on he found her so alluring that he gasped.
“Good evening.” He said hastily and rose up.
“Good evening.” Jumoke replied tonelessly.
“So Jumoke…” Gloria said excitedly. “This is Derick, my church member and friend. And Derick, this is Jumoke my housemate and friend.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” he said genuinely with his hand extended.
Jumoke stared at it for a while and then shook it limply.
“Hello.” She said coolly and stared at him for a brief moment.
“Excuse me please.” She said and promptly turned to leave.
Gloria looked back and forth in confusion between her departing friend and guest.
“I’m so sorry!” She said when Jumoke left. “She can be…”
“I understand…” he said with a smile.
“So… I guess I’ll see you on sunday.”
“Yeah… err… thanks for introducing us.”
“It didn’t turn out well so don’t thank me.” She rolled her eyes.
“It’s not over. I have a feeling that we’ll see each other again. Goodnight.” He replied optimistically and made to leave.
“Let me see you off!”
When Gloria retuned into the house, she found Jumoke pacing the floor.
“Don’t ever do that again!”
“Don’t ever bring a stranger into my house again! I don’t care how wonderful you think he is, don’t do it again.”
“I’m serious Gloria, you can’t just harass me with a total stranger. I have a daughter and my privacy to protect! He could be anybody! I mean how much do you even know this guy?”
“Like I said, he’s my church member and… he’s a nice guy…”
“Just as I thought, you don’t even know him!”
Gloria stood in stunned silence as Jumoke stomped off.