Tayo walks into the house greeting Mama Tito as he opens the door for him, he sees Mercy in the parlour, he goes to her ”Mama Good Evening” he greets her bending to hug her.
”Hey Tayo my son, how are you?”
”Great Mama, and you, how are you holding up?”
”So, where is the grumpy one?”
She laughs understanding ”brooding somewhere in the house, this is worse than I thought, tell him to go do the needful and stop brooding all over the place”
”Oh, what to do?” Tayo sighs ”He is stubborn, he is your son!”
”Sadly, he is.” Then she turns to Tayo smiling sheepishly “‘What if we do it for him?”
”Do it for him, really. How do you mean Mama?”
”Well, if the mountain doesn’t want to go to Mohammed, we take Mohammed to the mountain or bring the mountain to Mohammed, however which way works for me”
”What do you suggest we do then?”
”Oh I have a few ideas” Mercy rubs her hands together in excitement.
He bends down to listen to her as she tells him.
”Oh I see!”‘ Tayo nods ”That could work. You are a genius Mama!”
They laugh. Mama Tito turns to see them whispering, she smiles, she had a feeling she knew what they were up to.
”Hey grumpy! You good? You haven’t gone to work for two days, I know you are the boss but… lead by example!”
”I couldn’t concentrated”
“How could you eh? When you are thinking of matters of the heart. So are you going to stop pacing your house and go to her?”.
”I can’t!!” He sinks into the chair.
”Okay fine, then stop thinking about her”
”I can’t either!!”
”Boy, your case is worse than I thought ” Tayo laughs
”Not funny Tayo!”
”You won’t go to her, won’t stop thinking about her, son, you are just… stubborn”
”Something I got from Ambross!!”
”Yeah!! So stop thinking of woman for a bit, I need you to come out with me for a while”‘
”What, Why, Where?”
”Must I have a reason to take my best friend out? I want to talk about girls and drink beer”
”I don’t want to” he gets up from the chair and plops down on his bed.
”Well, if you don’t get your a-s up I would flood your house with g-string prostitutes and video you with them outing their a-s and boobs in your face and boost it on social media”
“You wouldn’t dare!!”
”Oh I will, dare me!”
”Fine, but I don’t want to talk about girls”
”Don’t worry, we can talk about one whose name starts with capital letter D and her name goes like this ‘Dee’. Come let us go…up man, up!!”.
Emeka sighs getting up, grabbing his jacket and they leave the house, driving away in Emeka’s Ferrari.
As soon as they leave, Mercy gets up.
”Mama Tito, this is what I want you to do, bring out the candles, some nice plates and make a delicious dinner, have the staffs leave the main house by eight pm. Leave the door unlocked and leave too”
She looks at her ”Mama, I don’t understand! Who is going to eat the food? And why are we all going to leave?”
”Because I say so”‘ Mercy is smiling” please do it now okay, ask one of the helps to decorate a little, let this place be beautiful; like I said, leave the door open, and let the securities not stop her when she comes”
”Who else Mama Tito, who else?”
”Ohhh!!” Mama Tito nods understanding what she was up to, she smiles ”I will do everything right away Ma”
” Good! I need to make a call!!” Mercy walks away dialing.
”Do you think it would work?” Grace is on the phone ”okay ” she nods smiling ”Indeed, take the mountain to Mohammed” she laughs ”okay, don’t worry, don’t worry mama, I will. Okay, bye”‘
Diana walks into the room ”Who were you taking to in hush hush like that? Junior is asleep, the nanny is here. Look, I know I have overstayed but I would be gone tomorrow”
”Nonsense Dee, you can stay as long as you want, and I wasn’t talking to anyone, I just… erm… crap!!” Grace explains touching her temple.
”What?” Diana turns to her
”I know we were supposed to go out tonight but I can’t anymore”
”Why not, your nanny is already here, she will watch junior”
”It’s not that, they just sent me a report for me to address for work and I have to finish it tonight, I just forgot and I have to send it Asap, I am sorry” she apologises to Diana.
”Argh!! So much for a movie and girl’s time” Diana pouts.
”I will make it up to you, I promise!”
Diana’s phone rings ”You better” she says looking at the caller, picking ”Mama, good evening, how are you?” she is about to sit down ”what?” she jumps up ”okay, I am on my way Mama, don’t move please!!” she cuts the call.
”What is it Diana?”
”Erm-” she is catching her head ”Mama said she is finding it hard to breath and no one is around and I don’t know how come. She said she has called the hospital and they are no their way but she wants someone with her, Mama Tito has gone to visit her son, and she can’t get through to Emeka and she is scared and she can’t breathe and -”
”oh dear, you have to go to her, here, take my car, go really fast okay!!” Grace pushes her keys into Diana’s hands.
”Okay, see you soon” Diana rushes out of the house, Grace is smiling.
”oh!! See you soon Diana!!” she laughs, and then she dials the caller back.
”Hey mama, she is driving to you, okay?” She laughs again as Mercy says something ”I know right? Don’t worry, it would work out, have a little faith. See you soon.”‘
” What mama, are you okay?” he seats up as he answers his call. ”okay, Ma- calm down Mama, I am on my way okay?” he drops the beer and gets up.
”What’s wrong Emeka?” Tayo is worried
”Mama said she can’t move her legs, she can’t even- I have to go. She said no one is there, how can all the staffs not be available, I will fire them, I have to go home Tayo, let’s go”‘
”óh!! Erm, okay…you go ahead, I will come by immediately, run run!!”‘
”okay man!!” Emeka rushes to his car, Tayo grabs his phone and dials.
”He is heading your way Mama, you deserve an award Mama for being a good actress”
He laughs, gets a taxi and heads to Grace’s house.
The securities let her in, she drives into the estate, barely locking the car she jumps out, running up the stairs and rings the bell, no answer, she touches the door, it swings open. It was strange.
The house is empty and the lights are off, she finds her way into the house, up the stairs, she goes to Mercy’s room, it’s empty, the whole house is empty in fact. She dials her number, it’s switched off.
”Oh God!!!” she tries it again, it’s off, she dials Emeka’s number, but cuts it immediately, no! Mama has to be around somewhere, but what if something had happened to her ‘Mama, Mama?” She checks again… empty. No one was in the house.
She makes her way downstairs slowly, worried. She has to call Emeka.
Emeka runs into the house, it was quiet, dark, no lights were working as he tried to put it on ” Mama, Mama?” he calls out rushing to the stairs in the dark, heading up when they meet.
”Diana, you?” He breathes.
”Emeka!!” she exclaims
Then he shakes his head ”My mother” he rushes past her, rushing to her room, checks it, it’s empty, he checks all the rooms upstairs, its empty, he comes down.
”Did you see my mother? she said she was paralysed and couldn’t move”
”No!! She called me and told me she couldn’t breathe and no one was at home and –” She trails off as it dawns on her, Emeka shakes his head understanding, it was a ploy.
”Tushei’ Mama!!” He mutters under his breath smiling.
”Wow! We actually fell for it!!” Diana shakes her head walking down the stairs.
”Yes! We did, she was pretty convincing ” he rubs his jaw ”hmm, no wonder Tayo didn’t come with me”‘
”No wonder Grace cancelled our girls night out”
”oh, I am sorry!”
”it’s fine! When Mama is obviously okay, I should go home though” she turns away
”No! Don’t, please” he stops her.
”I have to” she walks away going down to the parlour ”Oh how strange! This wasn’t here ”
Someone had obviously gone all out to set out a beautiful candle light dinner, well decorated in the middle of the living room, the room that was dark a few minutes ago is illuminated in a dull glow only in the centre of the room, Emeka comes down to see it, they hear the door close and then lock, they turn.
They see his Mother waving from the window and walking away excitedly.
Emeka laughs ”You sneaky woman come here” he goes to the window, he sees her entering her car and driving away.
”So your mother lures us in here, sets dinner for us and locks us inside? I think she has been rubbing off on some master minder of recent, I wonder who” Diana taps her jaw.
”Ouch!! I deserved that!!” Emeka rubs his chest
”Wasn’t my intent” she smiles
”It’s okay, so..” Emeka walks to her ”Well, as you can see, we are locked in my house and a beautiful dinner prepared for us, we might as well eat right?”
Reluctantly she goes to the middle of the room as he pulls out a seat for her, he takes the opposite one.
They eat in silence, he puts the stereo on, and they continue to slowly eat, avoiding each other’s eyes, lost in their own thoughts.
It’s been weeks since the gun shot, he hadn’t come. She figured he was dating Olive now since he didn’t come… she was hurt and sad but she had to accept it.
Where was Olive anyways?
Done, she gets up, she might has well keep her hands busy… she begins to pack the plates, he helps her with it, they take it to the kitchen and wash it, neither speaking.
She walks back to the living room leaving him in the kitchen; she sits on the cushion, staring into nothing. He whisked out his phone to shout on Tayo ”I swear I will break your neck Tayo!!”
”Yes, I love you too brother, thank me later, bye bye”‘ line cuts
Shaking his head he goes to her, and takes a seat beside her and puts on the Tv, a soap opera comes on.
They are watching it, they are quiet.
He stares at her for a long time, too long.
”You are staring at me Emeka”
”Sorry”‘ He turns away.
”Infact! I am not sorry!” he exclaims turning to her.
”Not sorry?” she raises an eyebrow looking at him.
”Yes! For looking at you, for looking at how your heart had turned out. I won’t apologise for looking at you Diana because you are a rare sight to behold… and ..” he trails off as his heart beats within his chest.
”I know I have been an a—–e, I didn’t come to see you, I didn’t come to thank you. All this while I couldn’t bring myself to look at you straight in the eyes, because of my shame and my guilt, I am sorry Diana, for hurting you for all I did to you that day… you saved my life, you risked yourself for my life. I am sorry, so sorry… I never realised how hurting you could affect me so much”
”No it’s not okay” he shifts closer to her ”I messed up, yes, you were a lot of things years ago, did a lot of things, hurt me, broke me, but this woman now is different, this woman… you, is the one I have already dreamed about and when you got shot I thought you were going to die and I beat myself up over it for weeks and I know you hate me because I did and said hurtful things to you, I am sorry, forgive me. Thank you for saving my life, but next time, don’t go in front of a moving bullet, let me take the fall for you, I don’t want to lose you Dee, not again, not ever” he says staring into her eyes.
”It’s okay Emeka” she sniffs
”No it’s not Dee, I can’t sleep. I can’t think, I can’t function because I keep trying to run away from the only thing that matters right not… you! I love you Dee, from the first day I saw you I fell in love with you, and years later despite my anger I still couldn’t let go of all the pain but seeing you lying there at the very edge of death my whole world felt like it was crumbling down, and I am truly sorry for hurting you when you changed, I am so sorry, forgive me”
”There is nothing to forgive Emeka, but you don’t love me, you love Olive, you said so”‘
He shakes his head ”I don’t love Olive, that was all an act but yes I care for her and what we had was long after you and then later on, but… I didn’t love her, I couldn’t, because I love you, always have, always will and now all my heart does is keep beating fast within my chest just thinking about you”
”What happens to Olive? But she loves you”
”Olive is a great woman, yes she loves me, but she also understands this salient truth, ”The heart wants who it wants, and that is you Dee, I just don’t love you Dee, my love for you runs deep, seated in my bones, my thoughts, my mind, my body, my all. I love you Dee”
She blinks back tears, was this for real? He actually… he loves her, he never stopped loving her, Emeka loves her, he loves her.
”I am madly insanely in love with you Diana Nkenchior, and I was stupid to have done all that to you, I am so sorry. I couldn’t face you because of my guilt but I always checked on you, making sure you were okay, taken care of, I made sure you never lacked, I made sure-”
”I didn’t want any of that” She sniffs as her tears trek down her face ”I just want you, just you and you never showed up”
”I am sorry Dee, I am, forgive me. I am here today, that is all that matters” he pulls her into a hug as she cries
”I didn’t think you could ever love me again, my past, the way I was and all, I just wanted you alone and when you said you didn’t want me, it broke me, and and—”she trails off as he holds her tight to him.
”It’s all in the past now. Now, today, tomorrow is all that matters, I don’t care about your past but our present and our future Dee, that is what I want, I love you Dee” he holds her face away from his chest and stares into her eyes ”I LOVE YOU!!!” he exclaims searching her eyes “and if you will have me I will love you the only way I know how””
She laughs in her tears “I never thought you would ever choose me, let alone love me”
He laughs “I couldn’t love another woman since you, my heart choose you since day one, my body choose you, my everything choose you. All those years ago I was broken about you and my father, I was bitter, I wanted to hurt and vent it pain for pain. I wanted closure and I wanted revenge and when I saw you again, him again, I felt yes, this was the time for me to do it and I did. if only I had known the mistake I was doing iI wouldn’t have, Tayo goes on with his torturous talks of ‘I told you so, I told you, you will lose yourself’ And he was right, no matter how much I want to fight it I can’t, I can’t!”
”Then why didn’t you come” she searches his eyes ”Why didn’t you come to me?”‘
”I was scared, scared you will be angry with me, scared you will reject me, hate me, don’t want to see me again, I was guilty too for hurting you, for putting my family in harm’s way, and I felt shame because no one should hurt someone they love like that, doesn’t matter what the person did, no one should repay pain for pain, so I couldn’t face you, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I can’t even forgive myself yet for Ambross, I couldn’t face you Diana, right now it doesn’t matter what you did years ago, it broke me, it shattered, it hurt me, that’s the past, the present and future is all that matters, because it’s you. This you loves me unconditionally, this you loves me wholeheartedly, this you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I am in love with you Diana Nkenchior, I have been in love with you for as long as I remember and today, today I love you a little bit more, and I want to love you forever and a day more, to infinity and beyond , just you alone just you” he searches her face, her face still held by his hands