“Ehen! Deji what’s there in life that you should forget me na!” Lara queried.
“Nooo, bestie, its not like that na!” Deji laughed as she sipped her glass of juice.
“Eh is like what? Tell me! Deji toh bad!” Lara laughed again flopping beside her friend.
“Girlie, yan me, I heard Tony is sick?” Deji began to say in a mocking tone.
“yes, he’s been ill.” Lara said carefully.
“I heard the only snake in his forest is dead?” Deji asked again.
“Now Deji, don’t start! That’s so cruel…”
“So cruel?” Deji mimicked her.
“You don’t know how happy I was when I heard the news! I danced ehn!” she looked excited.
“Deji!” Lara gave her a reprimanding look.
“What? Isn’t it worth celebration?” Deji laughed
“This isn’t fuuny” Lara frowned.
“You’re happy at the misfortune that has befallen my marriage?”
“Which misfortune? When that man was fraternizing with all the women in town, isn’t that a misfortune!” Deji made a face.
“Deji please!” Lara looked offended.
Just then the beeper made a shrill sound.
“Excuse me bestie, Tony needs me now!” she got to her feet in a hurry.
“come o!” Deji held her dress.
“so you don turn dog wey na beeper dem dey use call you shey?”
the shrill sound came again, louder this time.
Lara pushed her friend’s hands away, rushing towards Tony’s room.
Deji watched go, she clapped her hands in gossip fashion. She quickly tip-toed after her friend.
“I’m just tired of being in here, can you take me outside please?” Tony pleaded peering at Lara.
Lara wished she wouldn’t take him outside, she feared Deji’s razor tongue.
“Lara? Anything wrong?” Tony patted her arm.
“Errrm, yea…no ” Lara helped him into the wheel chair.
“okay…” Tony smiled as she wheeled him out of the room.
They were at the hall way when they met Deji’s mocking gaze.
“Good afternoon o, Mr Tony!” Deji made sure her voice was loud and clear.
“Af’noon Deji, its been a long time.” Tony smiled.
“Yes o! I heard about your illness…errm…I mean the paralysis of your legs and ….and…..your…” Deji replied a mischievously smile playing on her lips.
Tony didn’t miss the message she was trying to pass across to him.
“lets go!” Lara whispered as she wheeled him out trhought the back door.
“I’m sorry about Deji’s attitude…” she apologised as she balanced him on the grass in the mini-garden.
He simply nodded.
“You need a snack or something?”
“No, I’m okay.” he was reading some invisible things on his palm.
“you don’t need anythin, anything atall?” Lara searched his eyes.
“Yes, you can go now, your friend is waiting.” he waved her off.
“Okay!” She sighed walking on the balls of her feet out of the garden.
“welcome back! Iya Tony!” Deji quipped as her friend walked in..
“Seriously what you did Deji was really bad! Do you have to remind him of his problems?” Lara feigned anger.
“Atleast he got the message!” Deji bit into her meatpie.
“Deji…do you know you are too bad?” Lara squeezed beside her.
“Oh yea! You need not remind me! Anyways, we’ve gotta enjoy our lives o.” she quipped and they laughed in unision.
Lara combed her hair and oiled it properly. She had earlier on called her hair stylist that she’d be coming that morning.
She wondered what hair style she’ll plait, she loosed shuku yeterday, maybe this week she’d use two-step or sade…
“Lara?” Tony called out interrupting her thoughts.
She rolled he eyes
“oooooh, pesin won’t rest again ni?” she hissed.
she hissed again, she was beginning to get sick and tired of Tony.
“Always Lara,Lara,Lara…na wetin sef!” she frowned.
“Lara are you there?” Tony called out again.
“Ooooh, free me jor!” she whispered.
“Yes? I’m coming!” she put in a lot of effort for her voice to become polite.
“Here am I.” she forced a smile.
“I can see…just wanted you around me.” he was smiling too.
See this one o! When did that one start? Lara thought.
“are you going out?” he asked.
“Erm, yes, I’m going to make my hair.” she explained
“Hmmm, I’d be alone then…” he said in despair.
“Well, I need to go now.” she started walking away.
“Okay.” he sighed.
He was sure going to miss her.
Tony looked from Funke his mother in-law to his parents, he wished Lara was at home; maybe she might defend him some how…
“Thank God your wife is out, so we can discuss properly.” Ifiora began to say.
“Yes, her absence is very essential.” . Funke chirped in, she personally thanked God Lara was absent, she couldn’t bear those looks on her face.
“Errrm..Tony, what has your wife got to say about your illness?” Ifiora asked.
Tony looked away, what does he want him to say…
“Tony, your father just asked you a question.” Amara said impatiently
“Nothing.” Tony replied.
“What do you mean by nothing?” Funke asked eyeing him.
“I think she should be in the best positin to answer that.” he frowned. He had never had an atom of respect for his mother in-law.
“Tony, you’l be travelling out of the country next two weeks for your treatment…”
“I know that already.” Tony cut his father short. He wondered why they all gathered a meeting without informing him earlier.
“Good! What matters now is Lara, we can’t keep her like this, she has a future.” Ifiora ignored his son’s rudeness.
“What’s your point?” Tony asked grithing his teeth, he was losing his temper.
“The point is you should divorce Lara, you fool!” Amara shot at him.
Tony held her cold gaze for a while, he wondered when he and his beloved mother became enemies.
“I can’t divorce her!” he spat out.
“Why?” Funke sneered
“She is my wife, and I love her, our marriage is sealed. Gerrit!” He glared at Funke.
“listen to me Tony! Love or no love, seal or no seal, you must divorce lara! You can’t saddle her with your disability! How far do you think she can cope?!” Amara said menacingly.
“That’s none of your business! I wonder if anyone has ever asked you to divorce your husband!” Tony shot at her.
“You dare talk to me that way?” Amara made to slap him but for the timely intervention of her husband.
“No darling, you can’t do that, look at his condition” Ifiora forced his wife back into her seat.
“We’re here to rule out some case, not to fight. Tony, Lara’s mum came to us, she wants you to divorce her daughter…” Ifiora gestured towards Funke.
“Yes o! Be ni! You must to divorce my daughter o! My daughter can’t marry an impotent man o! Lai lai!” Funke started to rant.
Amara exchanged looks with her husband.
“I meant it o! Its me Funke that talk it! I need grand children, and they don’t fall from heaven shey you know that! A man must to perform ni, and when you can’t perform, we’ll look elsewhere.” Funke’s body shook as she ranted, her gold bangles making chiping sounds.
Tony bit his lower lips. Life could be cruel sometimes.
“that’s so rude! We are not quarelling here!” Amara tried to pacify Funke.
“Robb ke! Mentholatum ni! The quarell has just begun niye o! Tell your impotent son to divorce my daughter o!” Funke turned to face Amara agressively.
“Please calm down.” Ifiora told her.
“See who is talking! Like father like son! Who knows maybe you too is an impotenti?…”
“You don’t dare insult my husband!” Amara shot back at her.
“How can you become this lousy? Is it how you yoruba’s behave?”
“Behave ke! You will soon see behaviour! Let me go and tell her fathers people that’s when you’ll see the real Yoruba behaviour. Oshi!” Funke yelled at her before stamping out the room.
Amara gaped at her. People change so easily, could this be the same woman whom they lavished so much money on?
“Good day!” Lara smiled as walked into the sitting room.
“Welcome.” Tony replied, he didn’t return her smile.
“How have you been? Hope I didn’t stay for too long?” she squatted beside him.
“Fine.” he looked away.
“Are you okay?” lara noticed the worried look on his face.
Lara watched him for a while, she knew definitely this bad mood wasn’t cos of her, perhaps something went wrong.
“I heard your parents came alongside my mother while I was away…” she tried again.
“What did they come to do? I mean what did they say?” she asked.
“Nothing…they just came to say hi to us!” Tony was still avoidng her eyes.
“thats not true!” Lara knew he was lying.
Tony bit his lower lip.
“please tell me what happened.” she pleaded patting his arm.
“your mum wants this marriage to be dissolved.” he blurted out.
She laughed quitely
“So is that why you’re moody?”
“yes…she called me names…even my parents got their share of the insults!” the words seem to come out through his teeth.
Lara rubbed her forehead…her mother was impossible.
“Don’t mind her! Okay?” she tried to sound calm.
“Lara…its just that…I errm….don’t..don’t want you to leave me, you’re all I have now…please…” he squeezed her palms.
“I’m not leaving” she assured him.
Their gaze locked for what seemed like eternity, till Lara looked away.
“Lemme get you something to eat, care for some fish peppersoup? I bought fresh fish from the water side…” she tried to sound cheerful.
“I’m already salivating.” Tony rubbed his stomach.
“Now you’re joining me in the kitchen…” Lara laughed as she wheeled him towards the kitchen.
“Ehn!” Baba Lagbaja exclaimed again.
“Yes o! Including the two jeeps Tony’s Father gave her, and the…”
“Wait!” he stoped her, turning to Funke.
“Funke! N gbo? You collected all that? Are you trying to sell your daughter? You’ve sold her already I rather say!” he yelled at her.
Funke shifted uneasily on her seat.
“My daughter, sorry to have troubled you o. ” Baba Lagbaja told the smiling Lara.
“Young men let’s go!” he said angrily and they rose to leave.
“Wait wait! I’ll pay!” Funke was desperate.
“I’l pay in installments, little by little.”
“When you sold your daughter to them, did you give her to them in installments?” Baba Lagbara shrieked at her.
“Don’t ever come to me again o! If you do Sango would strike you dead! ” he cursed before leaving the house with his group.
Funke was confused! How could her daughter become so mean.
“hey mum! You’ve got another plan?” Lara laughed at her dejected mother.
“Well, I’m afraid, you’ll have to die without a grandchild o. As for me, I can easily adopt as many children as I want o!” she jeered.
Funke threw her handbag at her in anger.
“Ouch!” Lara winced as the bag hit her belly.
“Please o! Be careful, Tony’s Babies are in there!” she laughed some more.
“Lara, you’re doing this to me your mother! What’s your gain?” Funke asked tears staining her eyes.
“My gain?” Lara looked sobber.
“My gain, is that, I can make you feel bad after all you did to me!” Tears welled up her eyes too.
“Omolara! I’m leaving you! Continue to ruin your life!”
“Yea! I’ll continue from where you stoped” Lara spat out.
“Don’t ever come to look for me! I’m no longer your mother.” Funke fumed heading towards the exit.
“And I’m no longer your daughter!” Lara shot back.
Funke turned round astonished.
“Lara?” she whispered.
Lara walked into her room, leaving her to stand there like an undecided ghost.
Funke tossed and turned on her bed. She had suffered from chronic fever ever since her last encounter with Lara.
“What have I done to deserve such treatment from my daughter?” she asked herself.
“The child I bore for nine months, brought up at my own expense, decides to turn against me.” she gazed at the ceiling.
She counted the ceiling for a long time.
“Hmn!” she chuckled wickedly.
“So far I’m her biological mother, she must leave that marriage! Whether Tony gets well or not!” she said firmly.
She brazed up a plan, she pulled her cellphone towards her and dialled a number.
“Hello, Deji ?” she said into the phone.
“Hello, eka le ma! Good evening.” Deji said in a sleepy voice.
“Deji please, come over to my place tomorrow morning. We have something to discuss.” Funke told her softly.
“okay ma.” Deji said cautiously before ending the call.
“Deji eat and drink now, its your home o.” Funke said as Deji sipped her drink shyly.
“Deji there’s something I’ll want us to discuss.” she said after Deji finished her snacks.
“I heard of a girl back then…the girl that used to be Tony’s mistress…I mean Sophia…” she continued.
“uhum!” Deji grunted giving her suspicious look.
“Errm..Deji, I know you and your exploits, you have this city under your finger tips…” Funke appraised her.
“So?” she grimaced.
“So I want you to tell me where she is! I know you monitor her movements! Please let me have her address.” Funke explained.
“just like that? What do you want with her?” she asked.
“I’ve got some business plans, and I heard she’s good in such business…”
“Of all the business women in this city?” Deji interrupted her.
“Common Deji, just give it to me! I’ll pay any amount you need.” funke said this because she knew Deji is a sucker for money.
“hmmn, I just hope this ‘business’ won’t affect Lara o!” Deji cautioned.
“Nooo…not at all! You forget Lara is my daughter!” Funke laughed.
“Okay!” Deji said scribbling Sophia’s address on a note pad.
“Thank you, name your pay!” Funke smiled satisfactorily.
“no need for that! Meanwhile, I must go and see Lara now, I promised her I’m going over.” Deji made to go.
“Okay bye, and please don’t tell her about this o.” Funke saw her off.
She waved as Deji drove away, a donkey smile playing on her face.
First mission accomplished, next target on point!
Lara smiled absent mindedly at herself, its been a month since Tony left, he’l be back soon.
“Can’t wait!” she said aloud to the empty room. She decided to call him…
“Hello Baby?” Tony’s voice said from the other end.
“Good morning to you.”
“morning how do you do? Hope you slept well?” Tony asked.
“Not that well, and you?” she made a face as she spoke.
“same here, missing ya loads.” he laughed.
“So you’re coming back this weekend?”
“Nooo, the doctor said I should for two weeks more.” Tony explained.
“Oooh” she groaned.
“hey hey hey! Two weeks is just like two days, no need for that okay? I’ll be back soon. There are many thing I’d like to show you!” he said soothingly.
“Many things? Like?” she laughed
and on and on, their conversation went till the door bell rang.
“Hey hold on! I’ll call ya later.” Lara said before ending the call.
Deji was at the door.
“ah! Ore mi atata, my friend, welcome!” she hugged Deji.
“This one you are looking fresh ehn?” Deji teased.
“You can say that again.” Lara giggled as she served her friend.
“When is the hubby coming back now?” Deji asked gently.
Lara was taken aback, Deji never referred to Tony as ‘the hubby’ before,
“Errrm, i just called him on phone, he said next two weeks..” she explained.
“Next two weeks!” Deji echoed after her, she looked pleased by the information.
“Yea!” lara felt a strange feeling, she knew Deji very well, that look on her face isn’t for nothing.
“Excuse me!” deji said as she made a call.
“Hello, Lady?” she said.
“The client should be in town in the next fourteen days, yea, business should be cool!” she smiled mischievously.
“Okay, bye, get all arrangements ready please.” she ended the call.
“The client? Next fourteen days?” Lara asked quitely.
“Yea, just some sort of business.” Deji avoided her eyes.
“Business? What type?”
“Oooh, Lara please! I didn’t come here for an interview na!” she laughed.
“Okay” Lara sighed. Deji has been acting strangely for some time now. She hope there won’t be troubles.
“So tell me girlie! How’s Tony? His health?” Deji shoved her playfully.
Lara laughed, some how she felt more relaxed.
Lara was at the breakfast Table, when the gateman came in to tell her, that a letter was delivered for her.
She opened the envelope gingerly, she read it aloud.
‘ peace of the most high God be upon you.
How’s your husbands health? I hope all is well.
I saw a revelation last night about you, I don’t know if its a mere dream, or its a warning.
You just have to be careful about the way you do things, you are surrounded by unfriendly friends.
There is danger lurking ahead.
May the good Lord see you through. Amen.
she read and re-read it again, what message is he trying to pass across.
Danger? Unfriendly friends?
She felt shivers run down her spine.
“God see me through o.” she clasped her hands in prayers.
Unfriendly friends? She thought. She’ve got a few friends, just Deji.
Could it be Deji? No it can’t be!
“But Deji had been acting strangely now!” she argued aloud.
She’ve been asking suspicious questions about Tony!
“Hmm!” she sighed aloud.
Just then her phone beeped. A text from Deji.
‘ hy bestie,
I’ll be travelling out of town, sorry I won’t be around for the dinner with Tony as planned.
I’m really sorry.
My regards to Tony when he comes back.”
“Talk of the devil!” Lara eclaimed as she read the text.
She shook her head in suspicion.
Truly Deji is up to something, why would she travel when she knew Tony is coming back that evening.
Lara dressed and redressed her dress for the twentieth time as she leaned aaginst the car that brought them.
She wore make up for that occasion, courtesy of her mother-in-law.
She glanced her saphire wrist-watch, and shook her head.
She wondered what’s keeping Tony, their plane landed twenty minutes ago.
“Why is it taking Tony so long to come na!” Amara complained as she shuffled from one foot to another.
“Maybe something important.” Lara quipped.
“Hmm” came the grunt
“or maybe he’s shy!” she suggested again with a playful smile
“Shy? Tony lacks that characteristic o!” Amara laughed.
They both feel silent, as their eyes surveyed the airport environment.
“Holly Majolly!” Amara exclaimed.
“What?” Lara asked.
“Don’t look back!” Amara tried to hold her.
But it was too late, Lara’s eyes swung left and right,then she spun round, everything around her froze…
Tony was at a far end, locked in Sophia’s arm as they kissed ‘passionately’
Lara shut her eyes momentarily, then re-opened them, what she saw was real!
Her vision began to get blurred, she was inhaling and exhaling sharply.
Tony saw them, pushed Sophia away and ran hapilly towards them.
Lara saw him coming, on his own legs, no longer on the wheel chair.
She wished, she wished he never got well.
She wished… She began to slump slowly.
“Lara…” Amara said nervously as she tried to hold her.
But she passed out.