If it were a movie, the events that followed the most traumatic night of his life would have been played out in slow motion.
But it was not a movie and so the events merely played in his head, not on a big screen.
He pulled the gear into drive, slammed his foot on the accelerator and sped on the highway, towards the only place in his head.
The radio was on, he had turned it on because he needed to be in touch with reality – nothing had felt real since he realized the man he had called father all his life was just a puppet, yet another puppet in his mother’s cold hands.
…behind every door is a fall, a fall
And no one’s here to sleep
You were always faster than me I’ll never catch up with you, with you
Oh I can feel them coming for me…
He smiled sadly as the lyrics coming from Naughty Boy’s No One’s Here To Sleep, rang true in his mind.
His mother always had one over him, he’d never truly caught up with her – her lies and her manipulations.
She was the one who was intolerant of other people’s flaws, she never gave room for imperfections, never could accept one who was not perfect, yet she was the one with the secrets that ruined the family.
He spotted too late, a bad patch in the middle of the road.
He was not used to the road because he never travelled via that route.
Plus, he had not been in Ibadan in years.
He had been speeding a little too much and so he slammed his legs on the brakes.
The tires screeched, the car lurched forward, he panicked, slamming his legs harder on the brakes but it was too late, the car turned and landed on its roof, the tires up in the air.
His seat belt firmly secured him in and his hands gripped the steering wheel but he had still hit his head and the glass that shattered cut deep into his chest.
He sat there, bleeding, not able to think as Naughty Boy’s music continued to play on the radio.
…We all have our secrets, we all have our secrets
He smiled, struggling not to shut his eyes as he had seen on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that he might never wake up again if he did in a situation like this.
Cars were speeding by, none stopping, none trying to help and so he sat there, his world and his car upturned, his heart beating because he thought of her alone.
Her memories had helped keep him alive once, some years ago, he was going to try it again tonight and hope just like the years before, it would work now.
She could not sleep, she felt restless and she could not place the reason why.
She slipped out of bed, strolled into the sitting room, turned on the TV, reduced the volume, grabbed her laptop and began blogging.
She also looked up different vintage and retro designs that she wanted to purchase soon to start up the company she was going to register.
She had butterflies in her stomach and she wanted to share the news with Jide.
A lot of things she wanted to tell him but she was mad that he would not come to Ibadan to look for her.
She did not feel she had to tell him, she felt when she told him to fight for her, he got the idea.
But having spent some time in Ibadan without him making the effort to come and visit, was not a good look.
She had not discussed Alero with him and he hadn’t mentioned anything about her in a while, Tamilore wondered what was going on in that part of his life.
She picked her phone and thought to dial his number, it was late she knew but she wanted to ask him so many questions and tell him how angry she was that he had not made the effort to come and look for her.
She kicked off her slippers, placed her legs on the sofa and scrolled through her phone for his number when Timilehin’s call came in.
She would have to suspend the call to Jide, she thought as she picked Timilehin’s call.
“I couldn’t sleep and I thought to check if you were still awake. I hope I did not wake you?” his voice was low and gentle, he clearly did not want to wake her for much longer if she’d woken up to pick his call.
“No, you didn’t. I couldn’t sleep either. What’s up?” she laid her back on the sofa and stretched out while Timilehin spoke to her on the phone.
She laughed, talked to him through the night, oblivious of the fate that had befallen the love of her life.
Ademola Rogers had read in many books about trials, burdens, wilderness experiences and every other name bad experiences was called.
He had read how to go through those periods when your world collapsed, when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel and when sorrows last for a night.
He had even preached how to handle those periods and backed it up with Bible verses.
…Though sorrow may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning…
…Even though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil…
…When the enemy rises against me like flood, the spirit of the Lord will lift a standard against them…
Now all those verses eluded him, each of them fizzling into somewhere in his memory where he could not reach them or hold them.
Life was unfair.
He had spent a large part of his life looking for a child.
He had prayed, fasted, waited on God and had faith in him.
Then one morning, God had answered his prayers… Or so he thought.
“I did not ask for this, Lord. I did not ask for this betrayal…”
What hurt him was not that Jide was not his son. As far as he was concerned, the boy would forever be his.
What killed him and caused him to be in so much pain was that his wife, the love of his life had kept the secret for a very long time and would have kept it forever if Agnes had not said anything.
He shut his eyes tightly, refusing to open them, refusing to allow himself face the reality that was spread before him like a blanket.
He clutched the sheet on the bed in the Hospital ward, he would stay like that forever if he could.
He would not open his eyes to see the evil he had married, the poison who had been his own wife for over three decades.
Timilehin was becoming irritated by the way her fingers deftly worked on her phone’s keypad, typing what he knew was yet another message to Jide Ademola-Rogers.
He grunted, reached for the phone and tried to snatch it away from her hands.
But like the last two times he tried it, she did not let him.
“Tamtam, the food is not going to eat itself.” He was referring to the food they had ordered and that she had not touched in the five minutes that it had arrived.
“I know, I will eat it.” she muttered, looking at the phone expectantly.
“If he would not respond to your messages, maybe you should leave him alone. He clearly does not want to talk.”
Timilehin said, irritated that she would still busy herself with Jide while sitting opposite him in a secluded part of an expensive restaurant where he had hoped they could spend precious time together.
“Don’t speak for him.” Tamilore replied, placing the phone close to her plate of fish and chips.
“I am not speaking for him, I am just pointing out to you that this person might just not care about you as much as you do for him. Look at it, has he come to see you since your mother hurled you away from Yetunde’s house in Lagos?” He knew what the answer was and so he proceeded, “A man who cares will come regardless of the situation. He does not want you in his world and you’re trying everything to invade it.”
“And how do you know this?” Her fork was in the plate, picking as many chips as possible while her eyes, were on him.
“Because I am a man.” He responded, giving her that answer she hated to hear, a man statting what he thought was a fact simply because he assumed all men thought like him.
She dragged her gaze to the chips crowded on her fork now and guided them to her mouth.
She repeated the action of gathering chips with her fork two other times and then looked at him.
“A man who wants to be with a woman will mind his business, not try to bring down the other man he sees as his rival regardless of how irritated he might be.”
She said the words slowly, watching each line sink into him and driving home the point she was trying to make.
“Leave Jide out of your business, Timi.”
Aunty ‘Molola was not the woman who looked the way Tamilore saw her that afternoon.
She was always bubbly, carried life and was sweeter than honey.
Seeing her on the bed, wrapped under the duvet, her eyes swollen and her face pale made Tamilore really scared.
Tamilore raced to her side, sat by it and held her hands.
“Are you okay? I came as soon as I got your call.”
The call from Aunty ‘Molola had been a good escape from Timilehin’s piercing gaze and hostile behavior and she had dashed out of the restaurant as soon as it came in.
“I think my husband is cheating, Tamilore. I think he is. He comes home late, hardly speaks to me and… and makes phone calls where he whispers…” the words came out accompanied by a sob.
She looked like she would break down and cry and that hurt Tamilore.
“That does not mean anything.” Tamilore assured her.
Her Aunt and Uncle were the best lovers in the world as far as she was concerned and if anything went wrong with them, nothing could ever go right with love in the world.
“What are you saying, Tamilore? Those are tell-tale signs of cheating.” She reached for the box of tissue by her side of the bed and pulled out a tissue.
“He always told me this baby thing meant nothing but clearly it does.” She blew out her nose and continued, “If only he would just tell me and I would take it from there.”
“Why are you believing the devil?” Tamilore did not believe her own words, they shocked her as much as they shocked her Aunt who gaped at her.
She knew those words were not expected from her in a million years but watching her Aunt, the one woman who had always been strong, allowing herself to believe what might not be the truth was annoying to her.
She had to be strong, she had to believe what she taught the world. Wasn’t that the essence of teaching? So you could also learn?
“You rebuke the devil, you leave him no room in your life and marriage, yet the first lie he tells you, you believe it.” she continued.
“Uncle Segun will never hurt you and if I believe that, why can’t you, the woman who stood by his side while he pledged his life to you believe it?”
Aunty ‘Molola had still not closed her mouth, she continued to stare at the young woman in shock.
“I will go and make you noodles with plenty pepper, it would cause you to be hungry and it is the only food I can make anyway.”
Tamilore said, kissed her Aunt on the forehead and proceeded out of the room.
And as she left, it occurred to her how different she had become.
She was a different woman even her couldn’t recognize.
She had fallen in love with God without even realizing it.
And she somehow found out that she was into this man she never thought she would care about.
She loved God.
Aunty ‘Molola covered her face with the duvet and broke into tears, “Thank you Jesus for what you did to her. Thank you Jesus… Thank you…” she continued to say until her voice became muffled.
For the first time in her life she had lost faith for a second and for the first time in her life, she had been brought back on track by someone who didn’t study the Bible as much as she did, who didn’t care about God’s word as much as she did and who nobody thought had any good in her.
I will have mercy on who I will have mercy on and I will have compassion on who I will have compassion on…
Those verses came to her now…
God never looked at people the way humans did and He never failed to remind everyone of that fact.
-Tomilola Coco Adeyemo