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Remi pursed her lips and sagged her shoulders. This situation was tricky, she didn’t think it was safe for Lanre to go to the Oludares alone, yet, it was the only way he could see her.
“Maybe I should call Jumoke and beg her to let me come along…” She said.
“No, no, no. She said “we don’t want to see any of your family members”, I think that includes you.”
Remi huffed. “I don’t think you have much of a choice, looks like you have to do it their way. You’ll be owning up to your responsibility once and for all.”
“Are you nervous?” She smiled at him.
“What do you think?” he replied with an anxious smile.
“You’ll be fine.” Remi answered, touching his arm.
“What’s he nervous about?” Gbemi came into Lanre’s room typing on her phone.
“None of your business.” Remi retorted and looked away.
Gbemi looked up at her sister. “Of course, you guys are always leaving me out of everything. Even when you’re fighting, you’re leaving me out of it. I can never understand the bond between you two!”
Lanre looked at her sadly. “Gbemi, I’m sure there’re things the two of you talk about that I’m not aware of…”
“Please, don’t patronize me!” she replied angrily. “I might not know what you’re talking about now, but I’ll find out. I always do anyway, when you’ve both messed things up. Nonsense!”
She hissed and walked away leaving Lanre worried.
“Please forget about her, she’s just being herself. She’ll come around. So, keep me in the loop, yeah?”
“Yeah, sure thing.”
Something exciting is happening in Jan 2017. Watch this space!
“Do you want me to come with you?” Derick said to Jumoke as they sat staring at the lights in the garden at The BlueCow Restaurant.
“No… it would make things more complicated. I’d have to explain your presence to everyone…”
“It’s all right. I understand.” He replied, squeezing her hand.
“Thank you for understanding.”
“You’re welcome.” He replied sincerely.
Jumoke’s mind drifted off to the events of twelve years ago.
“I hope I’m doing the right thing Derick… what if I regret this?”
“It’ll be all right.”
He slipped his hand out of hers.
“Can I hold you?”
She nodded slowly. He put his arms around her and drew her to himself, sniffing the scent of her hair in the process.
“I always love the scent of your hair.”
She laughed quietly.
He stroked her arms. “You are very strong, much stronger than you can ever imagine so I know without a doubt that you’ll be all right. If it makes you feel better, I’m here for you. Whatever the circumstance.”
Jumoke heaved a sigh and nestled herself within his arms. “That makes me feel better. Thank you Derick.”
“It’s my pleasure.” He replied whispering into her hair.
She looked up at him to say something just then and found her lips a few inches away from his. They stared at each other for a while before he held her face tenderly.
“You are so beautiful.” He said softly.
Jumoke couldn’t speak, there was a huge lump of emotion in her throat. Derick wanted to take her lips in his and show her how much he loved and desired her but he felt caution tugging at his palpitating heart.
“I love you…” he said instead in a hoarse voice.
Jumoke’s emotions found their way to her eyelids and coursed down her cheeks.
“Thank you.” she said earnestly.
It wasn’t the response Derick had been expecting but the sincerity of her words struck him as if she had responded in like manner. He pulled her into his arms and sighed heavily.
“When is he going to be here?” Hope said again, looking out the window.
Jumoke was tired of answering the same question, she simply shook her head and continued swiping her iPad.
“I wish Aunty Gloria had come with us.”
Gloria had declined to come along with them. “It sounds more to me like a family meeting,” she had said. “It would be too awkward for me, you guys will come and give me the gist.”
“I know.” Jumoke missed her too. Gloria would have distracted them with some interesting news about something or someone.
Mrs Oludare knocked on the door and came in.
“Grandma, he’s not here yet!” Hope said anxiously.
“Your mum said he’s in traffic.”
“All this time?! He should be here by now!” The girl said impatiently.
“I’m sure he would soon be here. Why don’t you go and keep your grandfather company? He’s bored.”
Hope laughed. “Grandma, I’m not a little girl anymore. You can just say “Hope dear, please excuse us.””
It was Mrs Oludare’s turn to laugh. “Okay, Hope dear, please excuse us!”
“Of course!” she said and walked out of the room.
At the door she changed her mind and walked over to her mother.
“Be nice,” She whispered in the latter’s ears and finally left the room.
“Can I sit?” Mrs Oludare began.
Jumoke wanted to tell her to get lost but one’s mother would always be one’s mother. She shrugged and pointed at the bed instead and looked sternly at her.
“I just want to say a few thing before he comes here.” She ran her hands down her laps and exhaled sharply.
“I have wronged you deeply, I have done things that a mother should protect her child from. I’ve made myself your enemy. I won’t sit here and attempt to explain the reasons why… I just want to ask for your forgiveness…” Her voice choked with emotion and she took in a deep breath to steady herself.
“Too much time has passed. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I miss you…”
“Are you telling me, that in all this time that has passed…,” She replied mockingly. “It never occurred to you that you were doing wrong?”
“I was too ashamed…”
“Oh, so what suddenly makes you feel unashamed?” she asked disdainfully.
Mrs Oludare smiled awkwardly, nothing she could say would soften her daughter’s mind. It was clear to her now, Jumoke would never forgive her.
Jumoke opened the door to a nervous looking Lanre.
“You’re finally here.” she said sarcastically.
“I’m sorry I was in…”
Jumoke held up her hand. “Don’t bother, just come in and sit down.”
Mr and Mrs Oludare and Korede were seated in the sitting room, all looking pensive. Hope was inside one of the rooms, instructed not to come out until she was called for.
Lanre bowed his head deferentially. “Good afternoon…”
In a flash, Mr Oludare removed his leather slipper and threw it at Lanre’s head.
“O ma go o!” he yelled, accusing him of foolishness. “You impregnate my daughter and run off, and then you come in here twelve years later and you cannot greet me properly?!”
Lanre immediately threw himself on the ground and prostrated like a younger Yoruba male would to an older one. “Good afternoon sir! I’m sorry sir! Good afternoon ma! Korede…”
Jumoke didn’t know whether to laugh at her father’s reaction or feel sorry for the traumatized Lanre. He was still holding his head tenderly.
“I’m very sorry sir!” Lanre said remaining on the floor.
Mr Oludare adjusted himself in his seat and glared at Lanre.
“Hmm… so you can come into this house?” Mrs Oludare said and clapped her hands in amazement.
Korede was expressionless, but in his mind were warring emotions. His twitching fingers were safely holding his lips, he wanted to do so many unpretty things to Lanre’s head.
“What can I do for you?” Mr Oludare asked sarcastically, his palm holding his chin.
“Sir… I’m here for… to see my… I’m here to see Hope.”
Mrs Oludare laughed ironically and clapped her hands in amusement. “Ehn ehn?”
Jumoke arms were folded, she stared blankly as she remembered the pain she felt the day her father came home to tell them that the Williams had absconded. Her mind was filled with memories of the scorn she had endured and the hardships she had suffered as a student to take care of her and Hope.
Mr Oludare thought he would feel justified seeing Lanre begging to see his granddaughter but his mind was consumed with anger. Anger that made him shake his legs uncontrollably and glare at Lanre from the slits of his eyes.
“So,” he managed to finally speak. “You ran away and left my daughter with a pregnancy that you’re now coming to claim? Where are your parents?”
“In Lagos sir…” Lanre replied.
He was still lying prostrate. Lanre Williams was a charming, handsome man with good breeding and a lifetime of privileges, lying on the floor surrounded by a family who despised him made him feel small, insignificant, and helpless.
“They’re in Lagos,” Mr Oludare hissed irately. “I shouldn’t have allowed you to come here without your useless parents! They should also be prostrating on the floor like you are doing now.”
Lanre sighed pitifully, how could he pacify these people? He only had to say the wrong thing and they would pounce on him and beat him mercilessly.
“I’m very sorry for what I did sir. I know I can never apologize enough but please sir, let me make things right however you want me to. I’ll do whatever you say I should sir… please… I just want to make things right…”
As much as he hated to admit it, Mr Oludare felt his heart thaw slightly. “How can you take away the pain my daughter went through because of you? How can you take away the shame? How can you repair the damage you caused this family? Are you going to tell all our church members that you’re the father of her child? Can you change the impression that she wasn’t sleeping around? There is no way you can make things right. The only reason I’m allowing you to see my granddaughter is because of her. I love her so much…!”
Mr Oludare shook his head vigorously, forcing himself not to give in to tears of pain and anger. He cleared his throat.
“I love her so much and I would do anything for her. Including allowing you to step foot in my house.”
Lanre knew better than to speak at this moment.
“You have fifteen minutes and I want you out of my house.”
Hope was pacing the floor, wondering what was taking so long. The door opened and her mother beckoned to her.
“Remember all I told you?” Jumoke said.
“Yes! Can I see him now?” She answered impatiently.
Her mother led her to the sitting room where Lanre was sitting. His head was bowed, he was broken. Jumoke cleared her throat and he looked up. Hope stared at him and smiled hesitantly. He was handsome, but he looked sad. Wasn’t he happy to see her?
Lanre gaped at his daughter, she was beautiful and he immediately saw that she had his eyes. She was as fair as her mother, and she looked well taken care of. She wore a short frilly dark blue dress that reminded him of the first time he saw her mother. She was sucking her lips in and wringing her hands, she was nervous. He rose up.
“Hello Hope.” He said, moving towards her. “How are you…?”
“Good afternoon sir…” Hope replied timidly.
Lanre’s heart broke when he heard her speak, her voice was almost musical. His face became contorted with emotion as he walked towards her, and knelt in front of her.
“Can I hold your hands?” he asked in a hoarse voice.
Hope couldn’t speak, she was as emotional as he was. She held out her hands and he took them.
“I am so… so… sorry.” He said, then bowed his head and wept.