“Is there anyone here who has a reason why these two shouldn’t be joined together? Let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”
Jide surprisingly felt calm inside.
When he had agreed to do his mother’s bid some minutes earlier, he had gone into the toilet for a few minutes and told God that he was obeying Him by honoring his father and mother but if this was not His will, then he should fix the situation.
And that was why he felt calm, standing in front of very few family and unknown faces, he knew God was going to do something.
But when the Church remained silent and nobody said a word, he felt disappointed and betrayed by God.
Or was Alero now God’s will for him?
The Priest noticed his discomfort, because he raised his eyebrow as if to say, “Do you have plans?”.
Jide ignored him and prepared to brace himself for the rest of his life.
“Er…” His phone interrupted the Priest and that was when Jide remembered that for some reason he had not switched that phone off.
The Priest sent him a disapproving glare then eyed his pocket as if asking him to throw the phone out and stop interrupting the whole programme.
Jide wondered if the man had huge plans after the solemnization.
“Excuse me” Jide muttered and picked the phone in his pocket and that was when he saw it was Tamilore.
A smile formed on his lips and spread through his face, that was his answer.
It was the answer to the prayer he offered earlier.
This woman had always shown up to rescue him from something at different periods in his life.
When he met her in the UK, it had been from boredom and self deception, weeks ago, it had been from not knowing who he was really serving and right now, it was from making the biggest mistake of his life.
“Kini gbogbo eleyi bayi?” Agnes voiced out her anger and frustration from the front seat.
“Grace, please talk to this boy. How can he be playing with a phone when he should be getting joined with his wife? Does this look like a joke to him?”
A joke was what it was but he said nothing to her.
He picked the phone and heard the voice of the woman who woke up his insides, the woman who reminded him that he had to really be himself and understand God better.
“I think God is really speaking to us these days, Jide” she began to say, “I can’t believe I just said that but I feel like I can hear Him and I think if we don’t listen to Him then it would be our loss.”
He nodded, it would be his loss, his tragedy and his problem if he refused to listen to God.
“He’s always speaking to us, babe.” He told her and then said, “Let me call you back, there is something I have to attend to.”
“Okay.” She said and got off the phone.
Jide smiled happily, a little bit too happy and then faced his mother, “I love you mom, but I love myself more.”
He raced to where she was and hugged her tight. “I am not getting married to make you happy.”
He whispered into her ears and walked towards the entrance of the Church, dancing and causing the few guests to watch him in amusement and surprise.
“Alero, you deserve more than this trust me.” he shouted the words at her and left, remembering the scripture his father had come to share with him that morning.
“Love your neighbour as yourself…”
He had started after they read the verse in the New Testament and then added, “As yourself, Jide not more.” the words were supposed to mean something.
And now as he tried to find a way out of the massive Church, he realized that his father on earth had been trying to tell him what his father in heaven had sent him.
Agnes paced and grunted and then hissed and stopped and resumed pacing.
Her gele was on the floor in the sitting room, her hands on her hips and her feet bare.
She glared at Grace, her eyes colder than a harmattan morning in December.
“Shebi you sha saw the disgrace. Abi?”
“Agnes, I am sorry but as you could see the boy made the decision all by himself.”
“But you watched him leave and did nothing about it.”
“We were all dazed, Agnes and you know that.” Agnes nodded.
“No problem. You can go.” Grace waited, as if to hear the statement again and as if to guage the truth and sincerity in Agnes’ words.
Agnes shrugged, as if to say to Grace she was serious.
Grace left as fast as she could, the door shutting loudly behind her.
Grace was trying to calm her nerves, telling herself and the bottle of vodka clutched in her hands that the foreboding she felt wasn’t as a result of Agnes’ unconvincing reassurance earlier in the day.
Ademola Rogers walked into the bedroom, worry weighing him down when he sighted her in a corner, oblivious to his presence in the room, her hands caressing the bottle in her hands.
She didn’t seem like she would drink it anytime soon but she also did not seem like she would part with it either.
He tried to be there for her as much as he could but he knew years ago that she was emotionally messed up.
It had largely stemmmed from having several step-fathers when she was younger, some of them molesting her and leading her to make poor choices.
It had also stemmed from refusing to recognize when to make the right choice.
She was also selfish, manipulative and unfair.
But he loved her dearly, she was his wife, she had stuck right by his side through his worst moments and she was the mother of his only child.
He heard a knock, took another glance at his wife before opening it for the maid who announced Jide’s arrival to the house.
Grace sprang up from the bed and raced out of the room with the vodka in her hand immediately she heard the announcement.
Ademola let her be, he did not want to interrupt whatever they had to say so he dismissed the maid, shut the door and grabbed a Myles Munroe book as he made his way to the toilet.
Jide did not want to talk to his mother, he had gotten a call to come to the house because his father was ill and that was why he was there.
His mother held him though, her hands firmly gripping his as if letting go would mean losing her life.
“Olajide I know I look like a bad mother right now but I assure you that this is not my fault.” She began to say, he noticed the desperate look in her eyes and for the first time since he left the house, he realized she seemed weary, exhausted from God knows what and she had some pain in her eyes.
His heart sank for her, something was wrong but he did not know what it was.
“You’re not a bad mother, you just sometimes make the bad choices.”
He said hoping the softness of his words would ease away the pain he knew she was feeling.
She smiled, the assurance was apparently comforting for her.
“Where’s Dad? How is he? Has he been to the Hospital?”
She frowned, “Hospital? Why?”
“I got a call that he is sick.”
“Sick?” she was utterly puzzled, “From who?”
Jide realized that he had not asked the feminine voice that called him who she was.
She’d just told him to come home that his father was sick and he’d left as soon as he could.
For some very strange reason, he’d assumed it to be the maid.
“Maybe it was Rose.” he muttered and his mother called Rose immediately to ask if she made the prank call.
It was not Rose, she told them that immediately she ran into the sitting room and this further raised Grace’s suspicion.
“But what type of joke is that? The Lord rebuke the devil.”
The doorbell rang and Rose ran to it.
The Commissioner of Police sauntered in, he was in high spirits and a white well tailored dansiki made from the highly popular atiku material.
He was in his mid fifties but he was a stunner.
Tall, with features attributed to very handsome Fulani men, he still caused women to drool whenever he attended social events.
He greeted Jide warmly, the way he always did and the way that made Jide know he really liked him.
He’d also been there through many of Jide’s major life accomplishments, gifting him very expensive presents, one of them being a brand new car when Jide graduated from the University.
“Chris, what are you doing here?”
Grace asked, causing Jide to look at her with a confused look. She was unwelcoming, she clearly did not want to see him.
He was one of their oldest and closest family friends, someone Jide had known since he could remember, seeing his mother talk to him like that was quite unsettling and also, embarrassing.
“I got a message from you, remember?” Chris replied innocently.
Jide felt he was telling the truth because of the way he spoke and the way he looked at his mother.
Jide had always thought Chris felt something more than the usual likeness family friends felt for each other, for his mother but every time it crept up in his mind, he banned the thought.
“Believe me Gracie” He said now, seeming pained that she did not believe him.
He also called her Gracie, he was fond of her. Very.
“I did not send you a message, why would I believe you?” Chris showed her his phone and there, a message had come from her.
She was disturbed, something was wrong and she could not place her hand on it.
The doorbell rang again and the trio watched in surprise as Agnes and Alero walked into the house.
Alero looked like she was stoned and the alcohol Jide was certain she must have ingested bottles of, announced her presence before she stepped close.
She sat before her mother said anything, withdrew a bottle of alomo from the jacket of the stylish purple blazer she was wearing and busied herself with getting more of it into her system.
“Agnes.” Grace said in a cold unwelcoming voice.
“Grace. Where is your husband, I need to talk to him.” Agnes said, cutting to the point.
Grace folded her arms, stood in front of her and said, “He is not receiving visitors right now. What do you want?”
“He needs to be here.” Agnes insisted.
Grace was not letting her, she eyed her with hatred, clearly not giving her the opportunity to step further into her house.
But Ademola Rogers came into the sitting room at that very moment. Agnes saw him first and laughed, “Looks like the spirit pushed him out” she said.
Alero giggled, “I called him because I want to see the end of this whole Africa Magic bullshit.” she said and the smile on her face disappeared immediately, replaced by the drunk one that had been there when she walked in earlier.
“Alright, mummy let’s see you do your thing and ruin this family with your top secret.” She added, replacing the cap on the alomo she’d opened earlier.
Grace was alarmed, fear had replaced the confidence and hostility she had in her eyes earlier.
Agnes saw it and she was not bothered by it.
“Agnes…” It was a plea, a call to consideration but it went unnoticed.
“Grace wants to tell you all who the real father of her son is.”
Jide froze, his eyes searched his mother’s while his heart raced, his hearbeat almost loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.
“What is she talking about Grace?” Ademola Rogers asked his wife, refusing to believe he might have been betrayed by the only woman he ever fully trusted and loved.
Grace’s eyes fell, Agnes grinned, she had won.
“Mom, who is my father?” Jide asked his mother
“I am” Chris replied
Ademola Rogers clutched his heart as he yelled in pain.
Grace raced to his side, holding him before he fell.
She was in trouble, her past had come calling and her secrets were out for the world to see.
-Tomilola Coco Adeyemo