Ibadan. November 2000
“I love you!” Bolade mouthed.
Salewa smiled. Even though she was still some distance away, Bolade could see the smile. She was beautiful, as always. As she approached him, his heart beat faster and his joy soared. He had waited for this moment for many years. Salewa was going to be his bride in a few minutes.
Close enough for her to read his lips; he mouthed those three words again. Salewa tripped. Bolade was by her side in a heart’s beat. Trying to be sure she wasn’t hurt, he looked at her. It was then he saw it. He looked into her eyes. It was as real as his own hands that held her. She loved him eternally.
She smiled at him. “I love you too Bolade”, she mouthed in return.
Bolade heaved in relief. His bride wasn’t hurt. He helped her to her feet as the Chief Bride’s Maid helped straighten her gown.
Arm in arm, Bolade led her the remaining for steps to the altar. Raymond Somile was the pastor and he had the broadest smile in the world. Ray faced the groom and prepared to lead him in his vows.
“Please repeat after me”, he said to Bolade who simply nodded.
“I, Bolade…” the voice seemed to fade.
“Bolade!” the new voice sounded different. It was a woman’s. Bolade smiled and turned, expecting to see his bride only to look into a quizzical face.
“Oh, not you!”
Miss T Benson laughed. “You were definitely having a pleasant sleep. I walked into your room and saw you smiling. Your lips were even moving but I couldn’t hear what you were saying.”
“You spoilt my beautiful dream”, Bolade said, as he stirred and stretched.
“Dreamt of Salewa again?”
Bolade smiled sheepishly. He didn’t need to answer.
Tinu patted him on his arm as she sat on his bed. “You guys will reconnect someday.”
“I believe so. It just seems so weird. It’s been one whole month mum and I haven’t heard a single word from her. It’s very hard not to worry.”
“I understand. I suffered same with Raymond.”
Bolade nodded, a sad smile spreading across his face.
“Like mother like son ehn?”
“You said that not me”, Bolade said, matter of fact.
“Relax son”, Tinu said, reaching out to tickle her son.
Bolade shifted on the bed, giggling. “Oh mum! No tickling today.”
“Not until you promise me you will stop worrying”, she said, not relenting on her efforts to tickle him.
“Ok. I promise.”
Tinu Benson straightened up, a relieved smile on her face. Bolade couldn’t blame her. He had caused her so much anxiety in past one month. He hardly ate, and automatically had lost weight significantly. He hardly spoke with her either and he knew that was worse torture for his mum.
Remembering all he had put her through, he smiled at her. “Thanks for being there for me mum.”
“That’s my life’s job son.”
“I’m glad. I will make it up to you.” Bolade said, beaming.
“I’ll start eating well and I’ll make sure my grades pick up.”
Tinu Benson raised her eye brow and Bolade understood too well. He hadn’t mentioned to her that his scores had been low in the past four weeks.
Bolade made an apologetic face. “I know mum. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. My bad. But like I said, I will make it up to you.”
“You had better do. You know how much I pay to…”
“I know”, Bolade cut in. “You don’t have to say. Wait until the term is over to conclude if I am taking you for granted.”
Bolade smiled. His mother sounded like a teenager.
“Just get up and start your day.” Tinu Benson stood to leave.
“You’re not going anywhere mum.”
She turned to face him. “And why is that?”
“Because I need you to smile before you leave my room.”
Tinu frowned. “Have you given me a reason to smile?”
“Should I?” Bolade said and started cracking his knuckles as he made to stand.
Tinu giggled and hurried for the door.
Bolade laughed. His mother knew what was next. If she didn’t go, he would do the tickling this time and she knew he wouldn’t stop until she peed on herself. By the time he was on his feet, she was already out the door.
“I love you mum!” Bolade called after her.
“I love you too” he heard her say.
Bolade stretched again and made ready to use the bathroom. He didn’t understand why Salewa walked out of his life without a trace but he knew he couldn’t continue like this. He had mourned her absence for a whole month. He knew she wasn’t dead but he still wondered at the silence.
He decided he would trust God to take care of her. He had his WAEC to face and he had his mother to please. Salewa was in God’s hands. With that, Bolade wrapped his towel around his waist and braced up to face the day. Whatever the future had in store, he would be ready.
Raymond Somile made notes as he sat at his home office. He could not make too much sense of what he was writing. He was worried. Tinu had been a little distant in the past weeks. He understood she was worried about Bolade but he couldn’t shake off the fear that was gnawing at his heart.
Tinu’s life for almost two decades had revolved around her son. But she was going to be his wife soon. He feared she wouldn’t be able to leave and cleave as the scriptures prescribed for couples. The past weeks had only strengthened his fears.
Almost every time he had called her lately, she sounded tired. And whenever he asked what the matter was, her only response was, ‘I am worried about Bolade’.
Father, I want to be there for Tinu. I love her and her pain is my pain but I also exist. She needs to be concerned about me. This is hurting me Lord. Was I right in asking Tinu to marry me or was I jumping ahead of myself?
Raymond placed his head in his hands and sighed. Just then his phone rang. He didn’t allow it ring a second time. He hoped it was Tinu. He had spoken with her in the morning but he was missing her already.
That word melted Raymond’s heart. He thought he would choke on the joy that filled his heart. But he sensed something was wrong. Her voice was subdued.
“Yes love! I have missed you. Is something wrong?”
“Raymond, I have something to tell you that I did not know until today. It is serious and could affect us”, Tinu said on the other end.
Raymond sank in his chair, receiver still by his ear. He shut his eyes tight and waited, nerves on edge.
…to be continued tomorrow