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She screamed when one of the nurses pulled the sheet back over Madina’s lifeless body, letting go of all the hurt and bewilderment and raw grief.
Segun gripped her hand firmly pulling her out of the room, even as she gave way to hysteria.
She could see Madina laughing, Madina weeping, Madina waving…eyes sparkling with mischief. Her lips gave no words as she moved further and further into the strange light. Her black long glossy hair was looking natural, she looked natural, and she looked perfect, so happy Nike was almost convinced she was alive. She heard someone yelling about sedating her and she protested wildly, she didn’t want to lose sight of her daughter until Madina left her alone taking all her happiness and joy with her.
A YEAR LATER…
Normally at the sound of the door, she would have gone out of their room to meet him, but instead, she sat back on her bed stretching her legs out in front of her.
Nike hissed unconsciously to herself, imagine, a woman, their neighbour’s wife telling her she sees Segun constantly running around with Bunmi.
“Ah, of all people” murmured Nike, biting her finger gingering “of all people, Segun ah…”
The door of their bedroom opened as Segun working tired, discarded his jacket on the cloth armchair by the door. He walked up to her giving her a peck Nike said nothing looking away.
“How was your day love?” Segun asked, smiling and not suspecting her rising anger. Again she ignored him as she looked up at him who was removing his clothes for a bath, she felt her blood rush in desire and made herself angrier.
Ever since Madina died Nike turned from the once charming, jovial lady; which were one of the things he loved her for; to the criticizing, hot-tempered woman. Madina’s death turned her into a bitter woman, so much that sometimes he wished he could run away.
Segun looked at his wife whose face had a distaste written all over it; he took a deep breath before he started.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” He asked wearily.
Nike looked at him with venom “I was hoping you’d ask” she replied bitingly.
“Why is it that you’ve been getting angry a lot recently?”
“And why is it that you keep flirting with Bunmi out in the open? Must you flaunt all your cheating behaviours outside to disgrace me?”
He stood back to stare at his wife in shock.
“Don’t give me that look of a poor wet dog!” said Nike standing up and walking to the other side of the bedroom opposite him. She felt sobs rack through her slim body in annoyance.
“But I keep telling you there’s nothing between that lady and I… better get your sources checked!”
She stared coldly at her bewildered. “Yes, yes, you are just friends. I’m getting sick and tired of that excuse “I have heard it one too many times”
“And still you choose not to believe it,” he replied with rising irritation.
“You really surprise me Segun, you really do” said Nike as hot tears glided down her high cheekbones, she continued, “ I always knew that cheap tart had a fling for you, I always knew and of course knowing the understanding man my husband, he would virtually encourage her,” she made a gesture clear enough to show her ambiguous statement.
Segun’s lips thinned in understanding as he gave way to anger.
“Well, since that is no surprise, I guess I have nothing else to say,” he replied, frustrated.
Nike gasped reading his speech the wrong way “I can’t believe that during these trying times for us…”
“What trying times Nike? What?” He put his hands over his mouth for a few minutes as if he is holding back his words “Nike we both know you are the one still holding on to Madina’s death”.
“I’m holding on to my daughter’s death… Is that a crime now?” she laughed bitterly clapping her hands in anger.
Segun shook his head impatiently “Ever since her death you’ve changed, always moody and suspicious of everyone, including me, your husband,” he cursed “I love you Nike and no matter what you do to me, I would still be with you, I’m not a man to take wedding vows lightly, but remember this”, his voice shook as the words pierced straight through her heart “You hurt me every time and you know I would never do that to you.”
With that, he walked out on her leaving her in the company of her sad thoughts.
Nike bagged on the huge oak door of her mother’s house in the large compound. She looked through the glass oak windows as she heard the door unlock from behind.
Shortly the door opened and her mother smiled at her.
“Ah Nike, come in, come in”
Nike entered the large airy sitting room and sat down on a settee putting her legs on the stool in front of her.
“I was just coming from Bimbo’s house so I decided to stop by,” she said smiling.
Funke sat down on a single seated chair close to the corridor leading to the bedrooms “So how is Segun?”
Nike looked away from her mother “He’s fine”
“Don’t tell me the two of you had another fight?” asked her mother with a worried look on her face.
Nike nodded in distress and looked at her mother.
“Nike, Nike. You have to change this bitter attitude, don’t think your husband won’t get fed up with your attitude eh, I’m warning you o”
“I’m not bitter at all”
“Well, ever since Madina died you have been so dogmatic about the supposed affair between your husband and that woman” replied her mother, not willing to mention Bunmi’s name. “After all you heard this even before she died and you have always known it’s not true, so why are you just making trouble for yourself now”
Pain and loss stabbed in her heart when she heard the mention of her daughter’s name. She pushed it with an effort to the back of her mind. She said nothing.
Her mother looked at her intensely not smiling “You really are a very obstinate woman you know?” She stopped and then continued, “What makes you think your husband would stay forever? He’s human like you and I. Even if he’s seeing that lady, it’s your fault,” she said derisively.
“I need time mum”
“Time?” Her mother grunted “a year? Don’t you know he’s a man? Of course, he’d seek comfort somewhere else. That lady is the closest to his sibling”
“But why should he be having an affair when he knows he’s married?” Nike asked defensively trying not to sound hurt.
“And how do you know he’s having an affair outside, Nike?” asked her mother bluntly.
She burst into a thousand tears as she was filled with nostalgia for her marriage’s happy days. When just had their baby Madina. Her heart lurched forward to those days as Nike tried consoling herself.
“You know Segun loves you very much” Funke said to her daughter in a mild gentle way “He has given enough time to get over that incident, but he can’t wait forever darling and if you don’t change now I’m afraid you might end up being a loner for the rest of your life”.
She patted her daughter in a mild gentle way, making Nike lean unto her and slum her shoulders in grief.
The soft music and the dim lit bulb created an air of peace and romance for both of them as they sat in the dining room eating fried rice and chicken.
Segun let out a low sigh of ease as he relaxed back against the chair after eating his meal “So, to what do I owe this meal?” he asked, his tone full of humour.
Nike smiled and across the table looking up at her husband in amusement and a familiar shyness like it was their wedding night, I just thought you deserved a break”.
He smiled matching up to her amusement, “ This is certainly absurd,” he looked up into her eyes, which turned like brown Inca gold in the dim light “This is also strange” he repeated spellbound in the web of desire.
She smiled to herself; at least all was going as planned. Nike stood up and walked over to him to circle her hands around his neck, she breathed in the male scent until she too was picked up by the flames of desire.
Her tone was liquid as she spoke huskily “I’m sorry dear, I’m so sorry for all the things I’ve done and I’m willing to start over again”
She felt him stir in response as suddenly he pulled he pulled her to his laps. She smiled, trying to encourage him.
“Do you forgive me?” She asked soberly.
Segun took a deep breath “Of course you know I’ll forgive you for anything. I love you too much to hold grudges against you”.
She gave him a peck on his left cheek arousing him further “But you know I’m not ready to have children yet” she started gently but firmly.
Segun looked away as she felt a little of his mood drain away, but it was quickly replaced with desire “We’ll talk about this some other time. Right now, there’s something to talk about”.
“Please give me some more time”. He nodded to her pleasure and she continued, “Now I think we should have an early night”
“You think so?” His tone was nearly a husky whisper as he understood the meaning of her words.
“Hmm…” she murmured, “sure love. I’ll be yours forever”.
They had gone on a trip. A second honeymoon, thought Bunmi for the hundredth time that day as she walked down the quiet street in the evening.
Her heart skipped a beat when she remembered the look on Segun’s face when he told her; he and Nike had made up again. Forever this time. She grunted, really? She had asked, she hated to believe it, but she had the usual urge they would fight again As usual.
A tide of emotion swept through her as she sat on the porch idly looking at her phone. Was she hoping it would ring, that it would be Segun? The answer was clear enough.
How desperately she missed those times they would have sat opposite each other in their favourite bar or in her home talking about their private lives or those times when he came to her for comfort after his bitter wife and he just had a row.
Her lips thinned in anger and jealousy as her mind’s eye, she saw them both making love. God! The woman didn’t deserve him; she wasn’t there the way she was for him after Madina died. Unconsciously, a tear slid from the corner of her right eye.
Darn her! Darn Nike and darn him for making her love him so much it hurt every fibre of her being. How she wished he could see her for more than a friend, a stupid companion, but Segun Peters was too much in love with his bitter wife to even cast a look at any woman’s side not even when she helped him clean up the mess after he quarrelled with his wife.
She knew she wanted the best for the only man she loved, but then staying and dying in the silence of her love was tearing her, gradually, apart each day and she knew the time had come to let him know and walk away from his life after all, her life wasn’t getting any better.
She had made her choice and she knew it was right, the right one for all of them and for her, Bunmi Alakeko.
“I wish our holiday was never had to end” Nike whined, her hand link with Segun as they sat on the cushioned settee watching the AIT news. She gave him a light feathery kiss on the cheek. She looked at his strong attractive features.
“We could always have more. Forever” He replied as if a promise, concentrating on the newscaster.
Nike checked the time “It’s 7 o’clock. What would you like to eat?”
She felt his shrug of indifference. “I suppose rice, then” as she prepared to stand up. He caught her slim wrist gently but firmly, looking at her in the familiar intimate way.
“Stop, stay with me babe”
She smiled softly and kissed his forehead “If I do, we’d both be hungry later in the night”.
Segun caught her head and deepened the kiss and Nike sat on his lap, a more comfortable position and the urgency grew thick with desire.
… The shrill ringing of Segun’s cell phone snapped them out of their fantasy; he grunted in disapproval and placed his phone in the right ear.
“Hello…I’m fine….now…” He looked at Nike’s waiting face and continued “I’m not sure… okay, bye” dropped the phone and an ominous silence reigned for a minute.
“Who was that?” Nike asked, standing up.
Segun expelled a loud breath “It was Bunmi.”
She made her tone and face expressionless as she spoke, seeing him rise to full length. “I thought she was at Enugu?”
“No, it’s until next week. She called for me to celebrate her joy with her,” he sat down indifferently.
She looked at him, sceptical, “so where does she want you to meet her?”
“At our usual club,” he replied, walking towards the corridor leading to their bedroom “At McAllen. It’s just a walking distance from here” his voice trailed as he entered their bedroom.
Nike wrapped her arms around her slender waist and expelled a breath. She knew she felt jealousy rising because it was an open secret that Bunmi had a thing for her husband who was so good-natured to believe that his best friend and confidant just stopped at that.
Could she trust him tonight? Could she trust anyone after Madina’s death? A pang of grief hit her as she thought of her deceased daughter. She could give him the benefit of the doubt.
“So,” he said changed out of the casual wear to a black T-shirt and trousers. “Are you coming with me or not?”
Relief seeped into her as she at least found comfort in his offer “Maybe I’ll come by. Later”
He shrugged indifferently coming up to give her a light kiss on her forehead “I love you”
She smiled, feeling alone “me too”
With that, he left the flat and his footsteps could be heard going downstairs. Nike sighed heavily and slummed against a nearby chair. “I have to give him the benefit of the doubt,” she murmured standing up again to turn off the television set and walked up to her room meaning to have a little nap before heading for McAllen.
The loud music and voices mingled with the smell of alcohol and sweat. Segun walked immediately into the club.
He walked through the crowd to the bar, sitting on one of the stools. The friendly waiter in a white and black uniform towards him in the dimly lit noisy club” What would you like to have sir?” the waiter’s voice cut through the noise.
“Brandy please, make it a single shot,” he shouted across the counter opening his wallet to get a dirty 200 note for the glass of brandy as the waiter collected it smiling. Looking around, Segun sipped a little with ease.
“I have been looking all over for you,” shouted a voice from behind as a hand touched his back, making Segun turn to face Bunmi smiling at him.
“Can we go somewhere less noisy? She asked.
“Sure” he replied as Bunmi led the way out of the club cutting through the crowd. They got outside and picked a secluded place. They sat down in silence and Segun sipped his drink.
“So,” he began, “are you ready for the big day tomorrow?”
She shrugged “I don’t have a choice now, do I?” she replied with a feigned smile.
“I’m really going to miss you Bunmi. Big time”
She sighed in response “me too Segun, more than you’ll ever know”
“Nike is coming very soon though, I wanted her to come,” he said lightly, “You know things are far better than they were before. I still miss Madina though,” he smiled softly to himself and she faked a small smile, her eyes were downcast, but he caught the sad glint in her eyes.
“Are you okay Bunmi?” Segun asked with a note of concern in his voice.
She nodded with a lump in her throat, “I guess it’s just the idea of never seeing you again”
“Oh, come on!” replied Segun soothingly “There’s always the cell phone and email, this is the 21st century” he sipped the drink.
“I’m actually the one who requested a move to another state,” she confessed looking up at his surprised face.
“Why Bunmi? Is there a problem?”
“Thank God, but it is the best thing for everyone”
He eyed her with curiosity “What do you mean for everyone? You are beginning to speak in riddles”
Bunmi sighed, her heart heavy as she spoke the old truth “Look Segun, I don’t know how to explain this but… she paused to look at him with emotion-filled eyes “I love you”
His eyes held shock as Segun tried to calm himself, “You must have had too much to drink”
“N, everyone knows, even Nike knows that’s the reason for her cold behaviour towards me,” she paused and added hastily, “I know it’s hard to believe, but it tears me apart to realise you are so much in love with your wife even if could settle as low as being your mistress”
Segun shifted not willing to hear what she had to say and she held his hand “we shouldn’t be saying this. It can spoil our friendship”
“I’m sorry if I pushed the wrong buttons, but…”
“No Bunmi, it’s my fault for encouraging you, I should have noticed earlier,” He looked away not willing to see the hurt in her eyes, what hurt him more was that she was his best friend and they had to part ways in such a bad state, but what could he do? He couldn’t look her in the face again after tonight. “I love my wife very much even with all that has gone wrong between us”.
“And you are sure she feels the same way?” Bunmi asked bravely in the dim light making his jaw clench in reaction to her statement.
“Yes, she loves me more than anyone” his voice was staccato.
Bunmi nodded in weary acceptance not willing to start an argument. “Can we at least still be friends?”
“I don’t know anymore, you’ve brought up something I never bargained for”
“Of course,” she replied more to herself than to him “Well, I’m impressed, most men would jump at the offer”
“I’m not most men,” he replied, his face impassive and Bunmi let out a wild uneasy laugh “Hell! Let’s forget this whole thing ever happened! It’s my last night here remember”
Segun joined her in her laughter trying to ease the tension. Silence engulfed them for what seemed to her like an eternity. “You are a man in a million Segun,” she said softly as ever so slowly she brought her lips to his.
He forced himself to respond at least just to give her a little joy to smile for. She smiled up at him one lighter kiss and left mixing back into the crowd. Nike stood rooted to the spot. She had seen them and Bunmi knew she was there all along, she fought back tears as her gaze locked with her husband’s who was approaching her making her turn to rush unsteadily out of the compound.
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Written by: Oyinda Dosunmu
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