I struggled to hold on to the documents that the lawyer handed me and they fell carelessly from my hand. “I…I am sorry.” I said as I tried to lean over and pick the documents, Omololu immediately bent and gathered the documents. He passed the documents to his lawyer and stood behind him.
“You just have to sign in the necessary places and all is done.” The lawyer said.
I panted heavily as I stared at a silent Omololu. “I…I…I have to sign?”
Omololu stepped in. “Please give us a minute alone.” He said to the Lawyer. The lawyer nodded and walked out. Omololu took a deep breath as he knelt before me. “I…I don’t know what to say.”
“Omololu, you are letting go. You…you told me that you only want to laugh with me in this life, you…you said there was no life without me, do you remember? I…I have that picture we took in the wood? Do you remember?” I said as tears flowed freely down my eyes. “Lolu, I…I don’t want to go on without you, I am sorry.”
He drew closer to me. “Ijeoma…I…I don’t know how we got here, but, my…I.” He took a deep breath and clasped his hand in his head. “I…I don’t want to do this.”
“Then why are you doing it? You are driving me crazy, Omololu!” I screamed. “I can’t let go off you, I am no one without you. I was stupid and I regret everything that happened that night. I felt embarrassed when you showed up and I didn’t know what to do and I am sorry. I was foolish, Omololu. Please forgive me.” I cried.
He took my hand. “Stop it, Ijeoma…just stop it.”
“Let’s talk about everything. Let’s talk about why I didn’t acknowledge you in my speech, let’s talk about why I never came back. I just wanted more from life, I got so carried away and I am sorry, I want to make amends for everything. Please Lolu, think of everything we’ve shared, think of Tiwa. Think of me, when we were young, hungry, tired and in love, I just want to go back to us.” I cried.
Omololu swallowed as he tried forcing back tears. “It’s too late.”
I took his hand. “Omololu, it is never too late. We…we can start over, let’s start over. You, me, Tiwa, let’s start again.”
“Olivia is pregnant.”
My head spun like a carousel as Omololu’s words echoed in my head. “I…err…I…”
“I know it sounds…I…I don’t even know what to say, but, I just don’t know what to do right now. I am sorry, Ijeoma.”
I took a deep breath and wiped my tears. “Where do I sign, Omololu?”
I swallowed hard as I stared at her. Her face was pale and she was now wiping her tears. “I…I…”
“You can send the papers over to me in the morning. I am tired, I need to sleep.” She replied as she turned the wheelchair away.
Tiwa stood before us. “Tiwa…”
“What is going on, Dad?” she asked.
Ijeoma smiled faintly. “Your Dad and I were actually talking.”
“So, who do I get to stay with after the divorce is over?” she asked. “Do I get to live with you on the grounds that my Mom is incapacitated? Is that the agreement? Do I have weekends with her?” she asked, staring at us. I could see the disappointment in her eyes as she stared at us.
I took a deep breath. “Now is not the time to talk about this, Tiwa. We…we would talk about everything later.”
“I don’t want to talk, Dad. I just want to sleep.” She replied and left for her room. Ijeoma drove her wheelchair and followed her.
I crashed into a chair slowly as I watched Tiwa and Ijeoma go upstairs. I couldn’t bear to see Ijeoma sad but I honestly couldn’t do anything. The more I tried to find reasons for her action, memories of that night at the party played in my head.
The door opened and the lawyer walked in. “Omololu, what’s next?”
“I don’t know.” I replied and walked out.
Tiwa scribbled down in her notepad as she listened to some music. She tried to find some peace in the music and air as she relaxed in the garden. She had watched her parents talk about their divorce and it just started to dawn on her that things might have gotten out of hand after all. She cried so hard at night but there was no one to console her as her Mom too was crying all night. Maybe music would cure the pain, maybe Sharon could teach her to dance the pain away too, but she couldn’t go to Sharon, there was no rehearsal today.
Tiwa stared at the gate as it opened and Grandma walked in. She raced down to the gate to meet her grandmother.
“Tiwa!” she said with a huge smile and then pecked her. “How are you?”
Tiwa’s face gave her the answer. “Grandma, I can’t take it.” She replied as she hugged her tight. “You are God-sent.”
“Neither can I. Maybe we should just go back to Ibadan.” Margaret suggested with a chuckle. “Let’s go and see your Mom.”
I could read the shock on Tiwa and my mother-in-law’s face as they walked in. They kept staring at themselves and then back at me. “What is it?” I asked with one of my best smiles.
“I…I thought you would still be in bed.” Tiwa said dumbly.
I stared at my wristwatch and smiled. “This is 9am and even though I have the luxury of working from home, I won’t just sit around here doing nothing.”
“Mom, are you alright? Is there a problem?” Tiwa asked looking worried.
I smiled as I downed my coffee. “If by that you mean, did yesterday happen? Yes, it did and I fully remember everything. I’ll sign them today, don’t worry. Your Father would be free of me in a couple of hours.” I replied and drove my wheelchair in my mother-in-law’s direction. “I have missed you.” I said with a smile.
“Going to the lawyer’s?” she asked.
I shook my head in disagreement. “Not yet, I have to see my physiotherapist this morning. Now more than ever, I need to get on my feet.”
“The right attitude to start a new day.” She replied with a smile. “I’ll be glad to go with you.” She offered.
I smiled faintly. “No, you don’t have to. I want to stop at an old friend’s place.”
“Friend? Other than Austin?” she quizzed.
I nodded. “Yes. Take care, Mom. I’ll be back later on.” I smiled in Tiwa’s direction. “Don’t worry, I am fine.”
The session with the therapist was swift and I enjoyed trying to stand again. I did fall a number of times, but in my heart I knew I’ll still stand again and that day, I honestly couldn’t wait for it. I drove my wheelchair out of the hospital and approached my car.
I turned as Omololu approached me. “What are you doing here?” I asked. “Oh wait, I know, you want me to sign the divorce so bad that you tailed me down here? I’ll sign it, Lolu.”
He swallowed. “I don’t have it here.”
I nodded. “Then I want an hour with you.” He blinked. “We are going to talk about everything we never did and after then, I’ll sign your papers.”
I carried Ijeoma in my hands as I took her into my new house. “I just bought this place and the stairs won’t be comfortable for you.” I started as I explained why I carried her from the wheelchair. I set her on the chair. “I haven’t moved in here yet, but Olivia and I would be making decisions on when we would.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
I stared at her. “What do you mean?”
She wore a cocky smile. “Nothing. Can I have a drink?”
“This place isn’t set up yet and I can’t get you any drink except water.” I replied as I opened the small fridge that Olivia had put in the house in case of any romantic getaway prior to when we move into the place. I saw a bottle of champagne in the fridge with a red ribbon and I knew it had to be Olivia’s. My conscience judged me as I placed my hand around the bottle, but I didn’t mind, I felt the need to drink with Ijeoma and so I returned to her with the Champagne.
“Why do I have the feeling that you were trying to get me into this place for a reason?” she asked as I poured her glass. “Do I find it attractive that my soon to be ex is trying to seduce me?”
I swallowed as she ran her eyes through me. “Ijeoma, this won’t work.”
“What won’t work? The fact that I am trying to get a drink from my husband, oh, soon to be ex-husband?” she asked with a smile.
I shook my head and took a seat. “Don’t play dumb with me and you know quite well what I am referring to. You should have done this that night, I’d have melted.”
“And you know why I never did?” she asked. I raised an eyebrow. “I couldn’t.” My face was stoned. “I know it doesn’t sound right, but, I didn’t know how to face you when I came over to see you that night.” She continued. “I…I was just lost for the right words and you were in that woman’s place-”
I scoffed. “You said ‘Omololu, I am sorry’ and you walked out.”
She nodded. “Omololu, I am still sorry and I know I have put a lot of things ahead of you ever since I got that job-”
“Ijeoma, you don’t understand. I wanted you with us, Tiwa was sick, she had her birthday and she wanted her mommy, you sent money to us.” I replied angrily.
She nodded sadly. “I am sorry. My boss won’t let me go.”
“You chose your boss over us, you chose your career over me, you chose the press and the spotlight that night and even when they asked you, what did you say? It was nothing. You called me nothing.” I replied as I walked over to her. “Do you know how I felt as I left that place? Ridiculous! I roamed the streets of Lagos that night asking how you could ever do that to me.” I yelled. She was already in tears and she bowed her head. “I want you to look at me, you want to talk? Now, we are talking, what if I did that to you? I denied you before the world, would you ever forgive me?”
She was silent.
“Can you?” I asked.
She remained silent as she sobbed.
I nodded. “I didn’t think so, but, I am so crazy about you that I don’t know what I’ll do without you, I am afraid to lose you.”
“We don’t have to do this.” She replied. “I had lied to my boss that you were away and in good condition, so, so when you showed up-”
I scoffed. “So you were ashamed when you saw me? Oh…Of course you had to be, I didn’t wear a tux.”
“I can’t say you are wrong and I don’t know how to defend myself but all I can do is tell you that I am sorry and tell you that I want to be with you all my life.” She replied.
She cut in. “I know I was wrong, I know I have made mistakes along the line and I know that I have hurt you and our daughter but I want to make it right, I want it to be you, me and Tiwa. I want us to back together. I want us to be a family again.” She continued in tears.
Omololu clasped his hand in head as he stared at me. “W…What do you want? My life is falling apart and all this is because of you.” He said and turned away from me.
“I just want you to forgive me.” I replied with my head bowed. “Can you forgive me, Omololu? Can you?”
He remained silent as he leaned against the wall.
“Omololu, I…I will never be the same without you and I don’t want to go on without you, I don’t want to laugh without you, I don’t want to live without you, I don’t want you to go away.” I continued as I fought back the tears in my eyes.
He walked up to me and took his seat beside me. “I am sorry, Ijeoma. I am sorry we are we got to this.”
“Is there any way back for us?” I asked as I stared into his eyes.
He blinked and used his fingers to adjust my hair. “I…I….I don’t know.” He said.
I nodded. “I know I deserve everything coming to me, but you don’t deserve what is coming to you. You don’t deserve to be unhappy with another woman, Omololu, there used to be us, no one could come in between us and I would give anything and everything to take us back to that time when we just had to hold our hands and everything was alright. I want us to be friends again, I want us to fight again, I want us to kiss and make up, I want to laugh together, I want you back.” I said.
He stared at me with a smile and took my hand in his. “You have me, Ijeoma.”
I couldn’t take back the smile that formed on my face as Omololu took my hand. “Omololu, are…are we back?”
He smiled. “Can we try?”
The door opened and Olivia walked in. “What is going on here?”
I stared at Olivia as her eyes burned angrily. “Good evening, Dr. Olivia.” I said.
Omololu rose up to meet her. “Olivia, what are you doing here?” he asked.
“What am I doing in our house?” she asked.
I cleared my throat. “Omololu, can you take me out of here?”
Olivia walked over to me. “We should have a good talk someday, Ijeoma. How about you sign the divorce quickly?”
I smiled faintly and looked around. “I only use fountain pens, have one?”
She stared at me. “I won’t go down without a fight.”
I smiled. “This isn’t a fight, Omololu is mine.” I replied.
“Lolu?” She asked as she stared at him.
He took a deep breath. “I’ll just take her to her car.”
“Clearly she needs help, but she won’t be getting it from you.” She replied.
He stared at her. “Olivia, I…I don’t want any argument, let me just…I’ll be right back.”
Omololu lifted me off the chair. “Where is her chair?” She asked.
“I’ll be back.” He replied and took me to the car outside. “I am sorry about that.” He said as he helped me to my seat in the car.
I smiled. “It’s fine. I know what I am up for.”
“Are you sure? Olivia is never pissed; I am not being fair to her.” He replied.
I took a deep breath. “I’ll see you later; I have my pen whenever you are ready.”
“What was that about, Lolu?” Olivia asked flying at me as soon as I walked in.
I took my seat. “Ijeoma wanted to talk.”
“And you brought her to our home? Our home!” she asked.
“Olivia, I am sorry if I upset you.”
She scoffed. “If! You did. You might as well have taken her into our bedroom.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Olivia. And I don’t like how you spoke to her, she might be in a wheelchair but it doesn’t give you the right to disrespect her.”
“Did you just say your wife?”
I nodded. “She hasn’t signed the papers and that means we are still legally married.”
“And what about me, who am I to you?”
I blinked as I stared at her. “Olivia, you…”
“What am I? Your mistress! Your whore! What am I? Am I just carrying your baby?”
I walked up to her. “I am sorry; I didn’t mean to hurt you. I am sorry.” I said as I pulled her close for a hug.
Tiwa passed her grandmother a glass of water. “All our scheming have got us nowhere today, Grandma and I are super tired.”
“Your ideas haven’t been so perfect too.” Margaret replied.
Tiwa smiled. “What if they really get separated? Can I live with you?”
“This place suits you, I hear you now go to Lord Tanner? I got the video for Magic Time and I loved it.”
Tiwa smiled. “I love being here; I want to see what my family would be like together.”
“I hope you can see what your Dad and Mom were once like, you’d be proud of it.” Margaret added.
“Did you always love my mom? I mean, Dad told me that she lived with you for the greater part of her youth.”
Margaret nodded. “Ijeoma has always been my daughter too. She used to be so frail and nothing like the perfection you see now, but beneath that perfect lady is still the frail little girl I once knew, but she grew up. She smiled as she continued. “But what she never lost was her love, she could light up anyone’s life with her love and that’s how she crept into our lives and she could never leave.”
“Can my Dad forgive those days when we had to go through a lot and she wasn’t there?” Tiwa asked.
Her Grandma was silent.
“I can forgive it, but I know he cried at night and he was always looking at her pictures until he went back to meet Dr Olivia.” Tiwa continued. “I think Dr Olivia is a good woman but I really want my mom, not her.”
Margaret relaxed in her seat. “In the end, this decision is your fathers’ to take and I hope you know that.”
“I do, but, don’t I have a say?” Tiwa asked. “I know he loves her and she loves him, why can’t they just be adults and talk? I mean, adults should talk, right?”
Margaret laughed as she stared at Tiwa. “I have had enough of you, child. Let’s get something to eat.”
My driver pulled up in a neighbourhood I hadn’t been too in almost a year. I had been thinking of my discussion with Omololu and I knew that I had to make some things right too, even though I knew I didn’t have to claim total responsibility for it.
My driver opened the door and helped me out of the car. “Thank you.” I said. “Wait for me here, I’ll be back and if I am not, well, that’s it.” I said with a smile and drove my wheelchair on.
My heart pounded as I thought of the words I would say when I arrived at my destination. I stopped at the door and pressed the doorbell. There was no response after the first chime and so I pressed it a second time. I took a deep breath as I heard footsteps approaching the door.
The door creaked open slightly.
“Hello Sharon.” I said with a smile.