Desola moved to a corner of the room and tried to ring her sister back. Pregnant at age eighteen was bad.
Pregnant for one’s uncle at age eighteen was unspeakable.
She knew she had to speak to her sister. She dialled her phone number. Her network service was down.
Desola sent her a quick text not to worry instead. Her mind was in turmoil but she knew she could not afford to have a meltdown for her sister’s sake. She promised to call her later that night.
She could hear Richard’s voice and his father’s hushed one from the staff room but she could not make out what they were saying.
She wondered if Richard was telling his
father about them.
That made her consider if Richard had
feelings for her. Until a stronger voice told her she was loosing her marbles. He had a wife and she had enough drama in her own life.
She went back to her cleaning trying not to cry. Fausat’s text message was tearing her apart.
She wanted to hop back to Nigeria on the next plane and be there for her sister. Desola had always known her uncle was evil. But she desperately needed her mind to focus on anything but her uncle.
Thinking about her uncle- she knew
– would take her back to that terrible place again.
Grace’s cackling laugh brought her back to the room. She heard a familiar voice from the kitchen with Grace’s.
A shrill voice that was barely audible above the dish washer.
Desola guessed whoever it was had used the backdoor to get into the restaurant. Her feet took her to the kitchen door. She stopped at the door when she saw her.
Richard’s wife, Eniola .
Eniola was standing by the kitchen surface smiling. Grace was holding one of her hands, as happy as the younger woman.
Since the first time, Desola let Richard’s lips kiss hers and his hands touch her body – she realised the true extent of what she had done. What they both did in the name of their hurt feelings.
She realised she had become one of those women she used to despise when she was a child.
Women that ruined her childhood, by openly chasing her father: who just didn’t know how to say no to anything in skirts or wrappers.
“Desola, how are you?”
Desola could not leave, Eniola had seen her.
Desola smiled but no words came out of her mouth.
Grace had started to speak. The older woman’s smile had burrowed lines and dimples into her plump face.
“Guess what Junior’s mum has just told me. God has performed his miracle. She is in the family way. Isn’t that great news?”
“Congratulations Auntie.” Desola found her voice. She urged herself to say more.
Anything to fill the silence.
“I knew you wouldn’t be able to keep the news to yourself darling.” Desola did not turn to look at the owner of the deep voice. She knew it was Richard. She moved into the kitchen to stand closer to the women.
“God is faithful. Eniola, I thank God for you. Richard was just telling me.” Desola had to look up now.
She saw Pastor John stood in the doorway with Richard, looking happier than his daughter in law.
The man added, his eyes on Desola , “The devil can not rip this blessed family apart.’’
“So, everything is fine now?” Grace asked quietly, one friendly hand on Eniola’s back.
“Everything is fine now Sister Grace, thank you. I moved back to our house yesterday. I only found out last Sunday about this little one but we think I am atleast two months gone.” Eniola said patting her stomach.
She walked over to her husband by the door. Once there, she wrapped her arms round him.
Desola watched Richard kiss his wife’s
forehead before mouthing, “I love you darling.”
“I am the lucky one Rotimi. Love you too.” Eniola pressed her face into his chest.
Desola noticed then the flawlessness of Eniola’s beauty. Her fair skin and easy-on–the-eye face would put other women to shame beside her.
She suddenly wanted to slap herself for unwisely thinking Richard could have found her attractive in the first place.
Their eyes met and she saw Richard look away as if he hadn’t seen her.
He led his giggling wife out of the kitchen after Eniola told the women she would see them in church on Sunday.
Pastor John was still in the room now glaring at her. Grace had hurried to the hob stirring a pot of what seemed like curry goat.
“I hope you are doing some work Desola. We don’t pay you to laze about.” Pastor John growled.
“I am sir.”
When Pastor John left the room Grace asked Desola to dice some onions.
As her knife skinned and sliced the onions, Desola felt tears in her eyes. She accepted some tissues from Grace, telling her it was the onions making her eyes water.
Richard and Lanre, his friend from his school days at Homerton Boys were sat in Naija Spice restaurant talking over bowls of pepper soup and drinks at 9.25.
Lanre had a bottle of baileys infront of him that Richard had only produced long after his father left the premises.
Grace and Desola came out of the kitchen with their bags and jackets.
“Sister Grace, I thought you finish at ten.” Lanre teased.
“I am working tonight you know. I am doing a sleep-in at my client’s house in Ilford brother Lanre.
Not all of us are lucky to own a home with a fully paid mortgage.” Grace said eyeing the bottle of baileys on the table.
“What can I say sister Grace, man must work and play too.” Lanre’s laugh boomed across the restaurant floor, past the shutters. Richard wanted to say something to Desola but her eyes were glued to the door, her slight hand on the knob.
“Please Junior Pastor, don’t forget to put the containers in the kitchen in the fridge. I will see you tomorrow morning.”
Grace said addressing Richard.
“Ok. Are you sure you don’t want a lift ?” He asked, his eyes on Desola.
“Don’t worry I will walk Desola home first before catching my train. My client doesn’t mind me arriving late.
Goodnight brother Lanre. See you on Sunday.”
“Goodnight, don’t work too hard.”With that, the women were gone.
The supple perfume that Richard guessed was Desola’s disappearing too. Richard sipped his coke, aware of Lanre’s eyes on him.
“What happened to that Caribbean man from Milton Keynes that you brought to church Lanre? I haven’t seen him for months.”
“Sister Agnes happened,” Lanre replied laughing.
“According to Austen, she started bombarding him with phone calls and showed up at his house a couple of times with cake and brownies.”
“Why, was it Austen’s birthday?” Richard was grinning.
“No man, Sister Agnes was convinced that Austen was God’s choice for her. She told him and that’s why he stopped coming to church. I can also guess that is why he moved back to Milton Keynes.” Lanre was laughing again.
“How does a forty year old single mother justify chasing a twenty five year old man?”
Richard laughed too, until Lanre’s tone changed.
“Talking of which, what have you done to the sweet innocent sister Desola who usually can not stop greeting people?”
“What do you mean Lanre?” Richard growled.
The question caught him unguarded.
“You are a virtuous man Richard but these days I think my influence on you is practically taking over. I bet that was why Pastor wasn’t thrilled to see me earlier.
First you sent Eniola parking…
“Don’t go there.” Richard warned.
“What did she do to you? Why won’t you say?”
“Some things are better left unsaid ore. Anyway everything is fine now.”
“Is that why I can sense tension between you and a younger girl? I know I am not exactly a fantastic husband to Chimeze at home, but here is one thing I know. You can’t just sweep whatever happened between you and your wife under the carpet and pretend nothing is wrong.
Lanre continued, “Whatever is going on between you and Desola, shut it down right now.”
“Mate, I told you nothing happened…” Richard said.
“But something obviously is going on or about to start.”
Lanre interrupted. Richard picked up his spoon again. “You can’t have an affair with a girl like that. Take it from a guy who knows, inexperienced girls are no mistress material.
By the time she has chased you all over the city in a black cab, ringing your phone one hundred times a day, facebooking you, showing up at your house unannounced and texting you sweet nonsense a thousand times a day, you will be confessing all to your wife in no time.”
Desola padded to the door still half asleep. She had fallen asleep on the sofa in her nightdress. A quick look at her wristwatch and she realised it was nearly eleven pm.
“It’s me Desola. Please open the door.”She stood rooted to the same spot for a few seconds wondering what he was doing at her home.
She wanted to tell him to leave her alone.
But instead she found herself opening the door to him.
“Hi, can I come in?” Richard asked.
“I don’t think that is a very good idea,” she folded her arms across her chest because she remembered she was only in her night dress.
“I came to say sorry. The way you found out… I know you don’t deserve that.
I should have perhaps sent you a text
message to let you know Eniola is back home.
But what can I say, I love my family. So I hope you will keep what happened between us strictly between us. I told dad he misunderstood the situation, so please, can I trust you not to say anything Desola?”
“Don’t worry, I don’t have anything to gain from shouting if from the rooftop. Trust me,” she told him.
They both knew she was also talking about his son’s paternity.
A Long pause stretched into a disquiet silence.“I wish things were different. You are an amazing girl,”
Richard broke the silence first. He pulled words together to pacify his annoyance with himself. The more he looked at her, the angrier he felt. He was meant to be helping her get over what her friend did to her.
But instead he seemed to have used her to get over his wife’s betrayal.
The Richard he knew last year would never have done that. “I am sure there is a lucky brother out there somewhere who will give you all the happiness you deserve.
But we both need to let go of all our anger to move forward. We can’t heal unless we forgive.”
Desola nodded, “Don’t worry, I will sort things with Ife.”
All she could think of was her pregnant eighteen year old sister and the uncle that abused his position of trust.
“Goodnight then. Again, I am sorry for dragging you into this,” Richard said.
She said goodnight meekly.
Richard heard the click sound of the door as he walked to the lift. He was exhausted despite having taken the day off. He had done a lot of thinking since Sunday when he called his wife to tell her their son wasn’t his.
That night, they had done a lot of talking, echoed by her sobs. She was receiving his call on the doorstep of her father’s council estate flat building because she didn’t want the children to overhear her.
Then, she broke down completely and put the phone down.
In the end, Richard had driven down to Miles End because ringing her back had proven abortive. Her phone was engaged and Ife her sister wasn’t picking up her phone.
Worry had knotted his insides until he saw her.
Seeing her reminded him of how much he loved her. How strong his feelings for her were after all these years. After the children.
Her lies or omission.
He still loved her: warts and all. He pulled her into his embrace and told her he wanted her back. That was when she told him about the pregnancy.
As Richard manoeuvred his car out of twin buildings’ car park, he started to wonder how to tell his wife he had betrayed her too. He knew he would have to tell her.
They had never kept secrets from each other. Apart from the one that nearly tore them apart.
When he attended the Yorkshire Theology Seminary course with his father in January, one of the key things that was discussed was the close link between one’s openness with one’s spouse and God.
Most people would say he had not committed adultery. But he knew what the book said. Matthew to be precise wrote that looking at another woman with lustful intent was akin to committing adultery.
He started to panic when he realised his wife might demand to know whom he had nearly slept with.
That pained him because he realised he would rather not have happiness, if it meant telling his wife it was Desola that he had gotten so close to.
How could he do that to Desola. His wife would forgive him. But he knew Desola would not be so lucky.
She would lose her job and possibly have to find a new church.
She would lose all her friends acquainted with the church who were all she had in London.
Watch Out for Chapter 6…