“Have you had sex before?”
“The question is quite clear, Sister Alero.”
Jide didn’t care much for Alero or the marriage committee as a whole but he also did not like to see her being subjected to questions that made her very uncomfortable.
She shifted in her chair, stuttering, the answer to the question she’d been asked by Mummy Jacobs struggling to leave her lips.
“Does the answer to that question matter? She has given her life to Christ, has become a part of the Church and that is what should be important to us all.”
Jide came to her rescue and he immediately knew he had done the right thing because she exhaled sharply and muttered her gratitude.
Mummy Jacobs and the other members of the marriage committee however looked at Jide like he was crazy, he had asked the most imbecillic question in the world and the effect of that was the unbelievable stares they now directed his way.
“She needs to be asked the question so we can know how deeply into sin she has gone.”
Mummy Jacobs was not backing down, she was not going to stop until she was done asking the questions.
She directed her gaze to Alero and asked the question again, “Sister Alero have you had sex before?”
Alero looked at Jide, he nodded for her to answer.
“Yes.” She replied and the other members of the committee gasped.
Mummy Jacobs shook her head in disapproval and disdain.
“How many abortions have you had?” Mummy Jacobs proceeded.
Alero had not expected that question, she was expected to have removed babies because she had sex before?
“Ma, I think that question is inappropriate.” Jide could not understand how the unwarranted questions affected the committee as a whole.
“We ask everybody these questions” Mummy Jacobs responded matter-of-factly, her stony glare reflecting her unwillingness to back off.
“But this is wrong.” Jide began to say, he was not sure which irked him more, the fact that they felt they had the right to probe deep into someone’s personal life or the way they seemed unperturbed by how much discomfort they were causing the recipient of the ridiculous questions they asked.
“How many abortions, Sister Alero?”
They were still waiting for the answer, Jide watched them glare at Alero, looking at her like she was not worthy to be in that building or in the same room as them.
They began to irritate him; them, the questions and his mother.
Suddenly, he became angry at these people and he did not want to stay in the same room with them, breathing in the same air.
He had almost made it to the entrance of the Church before he realized that he had been so angry, he had forgotten to pick his phone and car keys.
He went back for it, ignoring the shock in the eyes of everyone in the room.
She screamed the words at him, disbelief hanging on to every single sentence that snapped out of her mouth, “When did all these even start? You walked out on the entire committee! Was it because I was not there?”
His mother slammed her fists hard on the table when he would not say anything, “I am talking to you, answer me!”
“They were asking her inappropriate questions,” he replied
“What is inappropriate about those questions? Or was it you she aborted for?”
The way his mother was going on about the situation made the irritation and anger inside of him rise over, “But it is not right, once she becomes a part of the Church, she becomes a work in progress, not a completed work.”
She looked at him as if he was stupid for daring to think the way he did, “Harlots are not accepted in the house of the Lord.”
“If she is not, then why are you so interested in me marrying her?”
She paused, made as if to say something but walked out of the room instead.
Jide, relieved that she was gone, picked his phone and dialed Tamilore.
She was not picking as usual and he was getting tired.
He was getting tired of not hearing her voice or having her close.
He began deliberating going to look for her.
Alero had never had anybody stand up for her.
Her mother never really bothered about her, never taught her the things that mattered and was never interested in standing up for her.
She had grown up having to find a way to deal with situations like the one that happened that afternoon after Church.
Jide had surprised her.
She knew they had a few things in common, one of which was not being able to wriggle out of the tight place their mothers had thrown them in.
And that was why his reaction that afternoon had shocked her.
It had made her realize that he was only quiet until he was pushed hard at the wall.
She picked more groceries and threw them in the trolley she was pushing.
Maybe she could borrow a page from his book and stop being so cowardly where her mother was concerned.
She had always displayed a tough exterior but on the inside, she was this soft person who little could hurt.
She stopped by an aisle of bread spreads and squatted so she could pick the jar of Nutella that she preferred more.
Her hands reached for it but someone else’s hands beat her to it.
She looked beside her and found a chocolate skin woman near her, “I’m sorry.” she quickly muttered and stepped away.
The woman smiled, flashing a set of very white teeth and revealing the beauty that was her.
Alero seemed drawn to her instantly.
“Its okay” she said and then handed the jar over to her, “You can have it”
Alero nodded and just then, she was distracted, her eyes caught the presence of someone else.
Alero’s heart skipped a beat, her pulse quickened and her throat ran dry before she responded, “Hi Sam.”
She drove home in silence, her mind replaying the scene she had just witnessed at the supermarket.
Sam was engaged to another woman and they had both come to Nigeria because the woman was working with the Nigerian government on raising the standards of some parts of the health sector .
Alero had congratulated them and then asked for Sam’s number so she could wish her well on the phone.
She did not wish Sam well, not with that woman.
She did not want her to be with someone else but she couldn’t do anything.
She had a different life now and she was looking forward to marrying Jide.
But if she was not bothered, why was she so hurt?
Why did she keep singing Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love on her drive back to the house?
She put a call across to Sam and asked to see her that night.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea” Sam said to her but she insisted.
“I will come and pick you outside your hotel and we can come to my house together.” Alero said.
“What about your mother?” Sam asked
“She travelled with the first lady and she won’t be back until tomorrow”
Sam sighed, considered it for a few minutes and then said, “Okay.”
“Wine?” She raised the bottle of wine and waved it at Sam, a corkscrew clutched in her other hand.
She had not undressed from Church, so she was still clad in her white bodycon dress that flattered her features and that caused Sam’s eyes to drop on her boobs.
“I like the new boobs.” Sam said drawing her eyes from it to Alero’s eyes.
“Thank you.” Alero muttered, her voice was suddenly gone.
It was the way she felt whenever this woman was around her.
Maybe it was lust, maybe it was the devil like she had been told many times but she was always physically drawn to her whenever she saw her.
“I didn’t think it would look this good on you.”
Alero laughed softly as she opened the bottle of wine in her hands, “I didn’t think so too.”
She poured a glass for Sam and handed it to her, their fingers brushed as Sam collected the wine glass.
Alero felt something move inside of her when that happened.
Sam was a hottie, tall with the height of a supermodel, with toned abs and a very pretty face, she commanded attention wherever she went.
And she always made Alero feel good every time they were together.
“Why am I here?” Sam asked after they had drank two glasses each.
“You wouldn’t even come to Nigeria with me, yet you came with her.” Alero said bitterly.
“I am engaged to her.”
“Oh, and that makes it different?”
Alero was pained, she poured herself two more glasses, “You should go.”
She said to her even though she wanted her to stay.
She stood and walked towards the door.
Sam walked to the door, moved closer to Alero until there was no more space between them, parted her lips with her tongue and kissed her.
“Do you still want me to go?” She asked Alero after minutes of kissing and groping at each other like animals.
Sam had unzipped Alero’s dress and she was standing in just her lingerie.
Alero shut the door and led Sam to the couch, “No” she muttered in response.
Sam undressed herself and balanced between her thighs.
-Tomilola Coco Adeyemo