EIGHT MONTHS LATER.
Omachoko didn’t understand why his mother practically came over to open the car’s door for him. Now, she didn’t do that literarily, so to speak, but his mother haven’t come out to welcome him back from trips with this kind of worried look all over her face before. It is even more bothersome as it’s not any of his long trips. He only left here two weeks ago for Christ sake.
“Olodudu ma!” He prostrated courteously.
The old woman only smiled at him without responding to his greeting, neither was she moving any inch away from the place she’s been standing, just a little distance from the parking lot. Omachoko pressed down the car lock immediately he saw his assistant was done packing everything he came with.
Not as though he travelled with a lot of luggage.
He likes to travel as light as possible, and the only constant part of his load would be his heavy ‘timberland’ shoes.
He watched as his mother’s eyes followed the nylon in his assistant’s hand until the young man disappeared from their sight. Everyone in this house can tell what’s in that nylon and who it’s for.
“I chane mewn!” came her voice.
Omachoko felt relieved that his mother finally spoke out, even though her words were not consoling enough, as it were.
The old woman narrated to him how ‘his wife’ as she normally call her has been ‘misbehaving’ ever since he left. She doesn’t respond whenever anyone wants to engage her in discussions. At times she sits crying and lost, deep in thoughts. The worst part was that she wasn’t eating well enough. Most times, she would give the lame excuse of not having appetite for the particular food presented and even when another is brought to her, she turns it down absolutely. Omachoko’s mother understands how it is with pregnancy, and how some people suddenly develop frustrating habits towards the c—-x of their gestation period. She thought initially that Omachoko’s ‘wife’ was having one of those mood swings and nauseating feelings that accompanies pregnancy, but lately she has resulted to worrying.
Not eating. Not sleeping. Not having peace of mind.
It’s not safe for the young girl, it’s not safe for her unborn child either.
Omachoko tried to encourage his mother and make her see reasons with the poor girl.
She has gone through a whole lot in her little life and his mother knows all of these.
He commends the woman though, because, he didn’t know how he would have coped with Laibe when she insisted on coming back to the village. Laibe’s aunty couldn’t even say anything when Laibe’s decision was told her. Omachoko could see guilt in aunty Udale’s eyes – the type that makes one sign off any deal just so as to regain respect in the sight of the other party.
Laibe on her own part gave him a lot of problems when she came back to Ofabo.
Her both friends were gone – Ebi is married and Umali is hustling somewhere nobody knows in Lagos. Her grandfather – who was her rock in the village – was dead, and to crown it up, Omachoko has become helplessly busy, so much so that he can’t afford to stay back in the village with her at the times she probably wanted him to. He remembered Laibe insisting on going back to live in her empty grandfather’s house.
‘Has something come loosed in her head?’ Omachoko thought within, when those words left Laibe’s mouth. However was she thinking of living alone with pregnancy in an empty and isolated house.
Omachoko employed two more house helps, in addition to the three his mother had before. All was for Laibe. So that the love of his life can stay comfortable in his family house and have everything done for her at her beck and call while he continues on his marketing, distribution and agricultural research works that are all lined up in front of him.
Things even got overcrowded after the federal government hired his labour in addition to the tedious demands from the state government.
“Ugbo I de abajoi?” Omachoko asked his mother where Laibe would be at the moment. The woman pointed in the direction that lead to the back of the house and Omachoko literally ran off there.
True to his mother’s statement, Laibe was sitting on the wooden bench at the back of the house. This place has become her most favourite part of the house for obvious reasons. Omachoko had asked her, a month after he finally brought her back to Ofabo, if she could grant him one of his lifelong wishes. And when she asked him what that could be, he simply asked to lay his head on her laps. Omachoko could remember how she laughed unbelievably.
At times, Laibe wonders why Omachoko practically adores her.
They had a very long discussion that sunny morning with his dreadlocks resting on her tiny thighs as she crossed her legs on each other, so as to make the ‘bony pillow’ high enough for Omachoko. The young man is so hefty that the bench that bore Laibe comfortably could only bear his right leg, on which he placed his cowboy’s hat, while the left leg rested on the bare ground. They talked about a lot of things, even though he did the bulk of the talking – as talking has practically been deleted from Laibe’s to-do list. His eyes bore holes through Laibe’s face and he wished he could not just kiss her deeply, letting his tongue roll through the entire cavity of her beautiful mouth till they both got breathless, but also kiss all her pains away. That was the closest they’ve gotten ever.
He could feel his own heartbeat as Laibe’s hands gentle stroked his dreads. She has always been his worst addiction.
Even with the so much exposure Omachoko has now, they are two things about him that didn’t change. First is, he wouldn’t stop wearing heavily intimidating timberland shoes – very expensive ones now though, alongside a cowboy’s hat. A passionate farmer to the core. Second, and most important, is that his affection for Laibe hasn’t wavered in the very least.