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The Mercedes benz in front of Fifunmi at Mokola roundabout was carrying some school pupils who all seemed to be fighting over something that looked like a book. The car beside her was a rickety old *Danfo with all kinds of tired faces that didn’t give a hint of any excitement or celebration. She wondered if these people ever celebrated Valentine’s Day. Looking through her rear view mirror, she saw a middle-aged man sitting behind the black Peugeot 607 behind her struggling with a box and a wrapper. “This forty-something-year-old looking bloke was probably wrapping a gift of love for his wife”, she thought to herself. She quickly hid her face from the mirror when the man seemed to be looking right through the glasses at her; just in time to realize the benz had sped off past the traffic lights. She engaged her gear and sped towards sabo.
Kemisola was lost in her world, staring at the birds as they took the evening flight over the compound. Their flight today, February 14, 2012 was therapy for her. She hoped that the memories of seven years ago would fly away with the birds. For her, Valentine’s Day was always a sad day. Her mind wanders to the gift that jolted her to life in St Nicholas Hospital, in Lagos. As the clouds gradually covered the setting sun, hot tears trickled down her face.
“I have been standing in front of you since I drove inside the compound, aunty”, Fifunmi said jolting Kemisola to reality.
“I’m sorry my darling, I was lost in thought”
“Aunty, you were not just lost in thought, you were in tears.” Fifunmi quipped.
“Never mind my dear, I’m okay”, Kemisola wiped her tears with the tail of her boubou dress. Fifunmi needed to know why her sweet Forty year old sweet aunty was in tears. Since she got transferred to Ibadan from Lagos about six months ago she had lived with kemisola and her husband, and now, they had become fond of each other despite the age difference between them.
“Today is vals day, I expect you have a date with David. Isn’t he in town?”
“Aunty, I will not go for my date until I hear the reason behind those tears”, Fifunmi answered. “Besides, my date with David is at 8pm”. Kemisola knew Fifunmi was a determined girl. She wouldn’t give up until she got to the root of every matter. Maybe telling her the story was therapy after all. Nobody in Ibadan knows this story, except her husband.
Fifunmi called Isa the houseboy for a glass of pure orange juice, as she sat down to listen to Aunty Kemisola’s story.
David pulled out the drawer under his bed, and took out the park of scented candles he had bought specially for the night. He looked around the ornately furnished room wondering what would be the most romantic position for the candles. He realized a perfect atmosphere would be created if the candles hung on the metal lamp holders he had taken from his father many years back. As he imagined the reflections of blue rays stimulated by light from the strawberry scented candles, he knew the promise of an eventful night with Fifunmi could not have a better appeal.
“At the time Folabi and I started going out, I was already thirty three years old. He was everything I wanted in a man. I was not quite desperate to get married even though I realized time was running out on me. I have always believed that time cannot run out on me. God has the times and seasons in his hands. I started the relationship with him because I saw in him what I had always prayed for in a man. We met at lagoon restaurant on the 31st of January, 2003. My colleagues and I had sponsored a surprise party for our Managing director at the time. Folabi came in just in time to join the toast. He spotted a black Versace blazer with gold plated buttons, a white shirt and blue fitted jeans. All eyes were on him as he walked gracefully, maneuvering through the round tables nodding to a few, obviously familiar faces. He was a tall man, and he exuded a lot of maturity and confidence. As he walked past me, I felt a surge of extreme masculine aura with the waft of his perfume, which I later discovered was Crave by Calvin Klein.” Kemisola paused as if she needed to relive that day in her mind. She wiped a tear from her eye and continued.
“To cut a long story short Folabi and I finally met at my MD’s office at a meeting the company organized with key infrastructure vendors. From then on, were like Romeo and Juliet. He spoke about marriage from our first date, and that wowed me. I saw in him, a thirty nine year-old who was already a father and husband in his head. I was taught to ensure a godly conviction in my relationships, so I prayed about us and introduced him to my Pastor, and from all perspectives I couldn’t be better convinced. He was a Christian, and he ensured we fasted and prayed together at least once in two weeks. What more could a woman of my age want?” Fifunmi took quick glance at her wristwatch. It was 7pm. David could wait. She was determined to hear the last of this story.
“I got so used to Folabi telling me I was going to be the mother of his children, until one day he told me he wanted me to get pregnant for him before we got married. I wondered why we couldn’t get married that moment. He had a rented apartment in Lekki, and as a British citizen he owned a house in Bristol. I had travelled with him to meet his parents, who lived in London. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t have a small wedding in London with our families in attendance, especially when my father was on sabbatical at Stanford at the time. He told me how he wanted a big society wedding that will be the talk of town, but he couldn’t spend that much since he was just putting up a few things in his IT firm in Nigeria that was gulping quite a lot of money. I felt trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. Here I was, a thirty-three year old Christian lady with a man just a pregnancy away from being my husband. Every day I said no, I felt I was unreasonable. I remember he used to say on the phone. “Baby, Please trust me on this. We will be married before this time next year“. One day, after a two hour conversation, amidst my tears I said “Folabi, I will father your children now. You have won my heart”. I dropped the phone that night and drenched my pillow with tears till I slept. I cried because I knew my Pastor would be disappointed in me. I wept because I was not sure what the future had to offer. I wept because I felt all alone. My pastor couldn’t understand why I would consider such a ‘hopeless offer’ in his words. Most of my friends and some family members thought I would be silly to let Folabi go just like that.
“So, did you eventually sleep with him” Fifunmi adjusted herself uncomfortably on her seat while she maintained her gaze.
“Fifunmi, I did, and in my entire life I have never regretted a decision like the one I made that day. From the moment I announced to him that I was pregnant three weeks after, things moved so fast. He showered me with all the love possible, registered me quickly at St Nicholas Hospital, and two months later I moved in with him in his apartment at Lekki. Each time the issue of our wedding came up; he would ask me to focus on our baby. He organized a baby shower for me in the seventh month, and his parents travelled down from England. I felt I was a part of the family, and a wedding ceremony was all we needed to formalize this whole arrangement. When my friends asked me, I told them we had gone to a registry, and we will do a traditional ceremony after *Aranlaloluwa , the name had given to our unborn son, was born. As my time of delivery approached, Folabi travelled to London to buy all the things our baby and I would need.”
She drew a long breath and exhaled heavily as she continued her story.
“After heavy contractions, my water broke on the way to the hospital at about 11.50pm February 13, 2004. I struggled to make it to the hospital in time before the contractions became unbearable. I was immediately wheeled in to the theatre where I fought what seemed to me like a very a long battle to deliver my *Aranlaloluwa and stay alive. I managed to whisper “Lord, please deliver me”, when it seemed like I was passing away. A few minutes before 1pm on Valentine’s Day, I was delivered of my baby, and while struggling between exhaustion and joy I realized everything and everyone around me felt dead and quiet. I opened my eyes and saw two nurses staring at me, while another two cleaned me up. “Where is my baby?” I looked around me on the bed, “isn’t he crying?” I asked. The two nurses staring at me immediately turned and left. Realizing something was amidst I started shouting hysterically until I saw Folabi walking towards me. “My baby is dead” He said blandly. Fresh sweat broke out of my face as I stared at him helplessly. While I tried to make sense of his words, he kissed me in the face, and dropped a piece of paper beside me. I must have fainted with the kiss”
“I woke up thirty six hours later in the hospital, surrounded by my father, my mother and my three sisters. It was then I realized everything had gone wrong. Nobody answered me when I asked for Folabi. Days passed before I was told by a doctor that my baby was still-born. As for Folabi, he was gone with the wind. The piece of paper he dropped beside me was a cheque leaf, and the text message on my phone was simple. ‘Write any amount on that cheque. I always pay my bills. I’m sorry I have to go’. I hear he is doing fine in Canada, but I haven’t set my eyes on him since that Valentine’s Day”
Fifunmi was crying uncontrollably as she ruminated upon the cruel fate her aunt had suffered. “Don’t cry my dear. I could have ended up a psychiatric patient, but God saw me through. He provided me with a husband that understood my past and stood by me through those years that I couldn’t conceive a baby for him. Today, we have only Ayomikun, and I am grateful to God”. She held Fifunmi tight, as she continued to cry.
The night was turning out to be ruined as far as David was concerned. Fifunmi came late for the date, and all of a sudden she will not even allow him a kiss. He had ensured the atmosphere was perfect for a consummation of passion under his sheets.
“David, I will not grace your bed to keep this relationship, I am sorry.” Fifunmi said.
“Fifi I have had enough of these hide and seek games. After five years in this relationship you still don’t think I’m responsible enough be a father? Besides, you promised me this night”, he shouted.
“Yes, I promised, but I’ll have to break my promise”, she looked at him straight in the eye. “David, we’ve been going out for five years, why is difficult for us to be married at this point?” David stuttered a bit and answered “I thought we agreed to get married next year”.
“Then wait till next year!”, she exclaimed looking straight in his eyes.
“Give me one good reason why I should wait any longer”, David charged at her.
Fifunmi removed her betrothal ring from her fingers, held David’s hands and shoved the ring into his right palm.
“David, since I have to explain to you that I cannot have sex and be pregnant for you before we are married, this relationship is over.” David stared helplessly as she picked up her bag and left for the door. As she shut the door, she knew she had made the right decision. God will give her a man who will not ask for explanations about her dignity. “I am twenty-nine! God has my times and seasons in his hands”.