After Keppy left for Oyinda’s house, Derin walked around the flat looking for something to occupy him since his wife was still in bed. Under normal circumstances, the situation would be reversed with him being the one still asleep, while Segi would be awake, doing the household chores. He walked back into the room and looked at his wife’s face, she looked so innocent in her sleep. She looked like she could not hurt a fly, but he knew better, this woman who could be so fiery and angry could also be very passionate about him, it was one of the things that had drawn her to him the first time they had met, that December morning so long ago
He had first seen her at their NYSC Camp, where they had all refused to eat the meal served at the mess. One look at the plate of runny beans and Derin had known that he would never visit the canteen again. So, he had walked over to the mammy market where the smell of fried fish had drawn him to a canteen run by a woman who seemed to be a favourite of many of his fellow corpers.
Derin had taken his position on the long queue that day as his stomach had rumbled loudly, and he had shuffled in frustration because the queue moved way too slowly for his liking. He’d impatiently craned his neck to check what it was that made the queue so slow and had hissed when he realised that some corpers had kept spaces on the queue only for their friends to come in and jump the queues. When Derin finally shuffled to the front of the queue, he was frustrated when he was stopped by one of the military commanders in the company of two female corpers.
‘Ol’ boy, step aside, we wan chop’ the man had said to him rudely as he used his elbow to shove Derin aside. Although he was upset, Derin had looked at the man in his military fatigues and had quickly decided that he was better off complying quietly because the man was double his height and full of lean muscle. More so, the man was a superior officer and he looked like he could squash Derin with one hand. So he had begun to quietly comply, until he heard a female voice from the back of the line say ‘No way!’
‘Oga, you cannot chance us like that!’ piped the voice from behind him again. Derin remembered how he had looked back and had been surprised to see the beautiful lady with a scowl on her face. It seemed hers was a hunger motivated anger because she had looked like she was ready to take on the world to fight for her right. He had stepped back, unwilling to step in the middle of any big argument because he had been unsure of what could happen to him if a fracas ensued.
That afternoon, the pretty lady told the commandant that he had to observe decorum by going to his rightful spot at the back of the queue. The man had been mildly irritated, but was shamed into doing the right thing. Derin recalled that it was the very first time his path and Segi’s had ever crossed. Much later, when he had been forced into the Drama Group with her a friendship had developed and he remembered now how much she’d teased him about that afternoon and his inability to stand up for himself.
‘Ajebutter’ she’d said ‘you were scared of bulala’ referring to the horsewhip the soldiers sometimes had in their possession while on the camp. Initially irritated, he had been stuck up and petulant about it, but later when he’d gotten to know her a little better, he’d understood that it was just her way of teasing him to encourage him out of his shell.
She had been the life of his NYSC Camp and after the three week orientation programme, he had come to an ‘arrangement’ with Zonal Inspectors while she had stayed back for her service year at a law firm in Ibadan. He’d been surprised to find himself on the Lagos Ibadan Expressway every other weekend, headed to her apartment in Ibadan just so that he could get to spend a few hours with her. Those few stolen hours had been bliss for the both of them, and he smiled now as he recalled the days when they had been inseparable, madly in love with each other and always on the look out for one another’s good.
Derin had come to know Segi, her facial expressions and body language. He knew when she was really not cool about something, and when she was really happy about something. Derin knew that his wife was the supportive type and was certain that even if Segilola was not fully in support of an idea that he brought forth, once she saw his passion, she would ride with him. She had never told him ‘I told you so’ for any of his failed business schemes. His Segilola had always stood by his side.
As he pondered, he asked himself ‘What is then is the problem? Why are we fighting this much?’ Derin wondered as he began to pace up and down, walking the length and breath of their apartment. To be truthful, they’d had their fair share of issues, but it had never been this bad.
He walked into the kitchen, not hungry, but found himself looking into every drawer in the house, scanning his mind while keeping his hands busy. Restless, he walked into the guest room and found himself staring at Keppy’s things neatly arranged on his bed and at the rucksack he had come into their house with, which stood on the floor by the bed.
Derin was unsure of his reason for being so inquisitive, but he found himself opening Keppy’s rucksack and bringing out the contents of the bag. He saw a journal which it seemed to be a diary of some sort, but Derin was too impatient to sit and read through it, so he quickly discarded it and rummaged the bag some more. He pulled out a camera and its lens, then came a tape recorder and then a very small cam corder. He was surprised to also see some pens that seemed heavier than normal pens. Could these be recording devices too? Derin wondered. Was the boy a journalist? Could he be in the process of researching on a subject matter?
He rummaged around some more and found an old airplane pouch which was filled with condoms. Derin immediately forgot everything else he had just seen and stood with the pouch in his hand. What was this boy planning to do with so many condoms? Why would any man have so many at his disposal? He had to bring this topic up with Keppy when he came back, but how was he to do this without seeming like a nosy person?
Derin hurriedly re-arranged everything back in its rightful position and left the room, straight to the balcony to ponder on the manner of person that had allowed into their home. Had they made a mistake? What kind of person was this boy? What on earth would anyone need so many condoms for?
‘Good morning’ said Segi, surprised to see her husband standing outside on their balcony.
‘My wife’ said Derin as he opened his arms to greet her ‘Sleepy head’ he said giving her a peck on her forehead. ‘Did you sleep well?’ he asked
Segi was surprised. Derin sounded like he was in a good mood. What could be accountable for this?
‘I did o Derin. What do you want to eat this morning? she asked, heading towards the kitchen.
‘Hold off on that first, I’d like us to have a chat first’. he said.
‘Ooookay. I wonder what this is about’ she responded
‘It’s about us. We’ve been fighting too much these days and I want us to examine what the issues are’ he said
‘What do you think the issues are Derin?’ she asked with thinly veiled hostility
‘I’ve tried to think about it and to be honest, I cannot place a finger on it, we’ve just been fighting like cats.’ he responded with sincere eyes.
‘Come, let’s go inside, let’s go to our room’ she said
As soon as they were seated on the bed, she opened up to him. ‘So, you really do not know why we have been fighting?’ she asked him again
‘No. I don’t. I know you haven’t been keen on this church thing for the longest time, but remember that you promised me way back that you will always support me, whether you understand my motives or not and Segi, you have always done that. What suddenly happened? Why are you now fighting me every day, all the step of the way? Sweetheart, you know how important to me you are, I can’t do anything without you by my side. I need you with me on this one. Please, tell me what exactly I have done wrong so that we can try to remedy everything. I want us to go back to being the friends that we used to be’ he said passionately.
‘I know what I said about supporting you, but that was before you turned out to be like this’ she said with a scowl on her face
‘Me?’ he asked ‘how have I turned out to be?’ he asked
‘You seem to be more interested in the profit to be made from the church than about the lives you could make an impact on’ she stated plainly
‘I can imagine that you will think so, but while I’m interested in making an impact, the church is the only avenue where we can sustain our livelihood for now’ he said gently. ‘Neither of us has a nine to five or a business that brings in money’ he said
‘Yes. Thanks to you. You were always borrowing money from my business to fund your ‘business ideas’’ she said. Accusing him of ruining her business. She had been trading very successfully in children’s shoes until Derin begged her to borrow him a huge chunk of money which he had sunk into one of his hare brained schemes. Derin made a monumental loss and she had been very pained about it, but somehow, they had pulled through the loss together.
‘Segi, is that what this anger is about, all this fighting? Something that happened so long ago?’ he asked ‘But I apologised to you and you said it was okay’ said Derin ‘I promised you that I will not only make that money back, I will ensure that you live in style’ he said, sounding really hurt.
‘Well, not really, that isn’t what this is about. Look I don’t know why I am so angry with you all the time’ she said, sorry to have brought up a topic that obviously stung her husband each time they discussed it.
‘I need you to think about it, Segi. Then call me and talk to me about what your concerns are okay?’ he said as he began to get up
‘Oyinda, the Roberts. In fact, that family is a problem to me’ she said suddenly, out of the blues.
‘Okay, we are getting somewhere now’ said Derin kindly ‘Why do you see them as a problem?’ he asked
‘Because I think the girl is interested in you.’ said Segi simply ‘and I think her mother is either aiding her or cannot control her child well enough’ she said brashly
‘Seeeegi. What type of mother will ever support her child in going after a married man?’ he asked in disbelief, surprised that his wife could even think of such a thing.
The way he asked the question, even Segi seemed embarrassed by the idea she’d put forward.
‘You said I should say what I’m thinking’ she pointed out. ‘I’m thinking Oyinda wants to sleep with you and her mother is looking the other way. I’m thinking that you should return everything they have given us and let us grow the church slow and steady. I am willing to wait’ she said
‘Are you saying we should give everything back?” he asked
‘Yes.’ she responded simply
‘Would this be your position if the gifts had come from a man and not the Robert women?’ he asked, smiling lightly as he looked into her pretty face
‘Well…’ she began
‘Segi, it is a yes or no question’ he said
‘Okay. No’ she responded honestly
‘So can we put that off the table? The gifts we have received will help us a long way. The warehouse will help grow our ministry and whether we admit it or not, the car gives an image of success’ he said
‘So…’ she asked
‘These gifts and your perception of the Robert women, are two different issues’ he finished off.
‘Now, let me tell you about Oyinda. I am not interested in her. I have you. I have never cheated on you with another woman. Why will I want to do so now that we are about to own a church? Are you unaware of how church scandals wreck ministries? Do you think I wan that to happen to me? But that aside, do you think that I, will for a few minutes of pleasure sabotage our marriage?’ he asked, looking very sincere
‘Segi, you are my backbone, You have been my backbone since I met you. You have sacrificed, struggled, held my hand and even fought for me. Do you think I would want to trade that for a young girl? Sweetheart, you need to believe in your man. You need to see that you are the light of my life and I will never willingly do anything that would offend or upset you. Segi, we always said we will have each other’s back. I need you on my side. Please, you know I don’t thrive when we are fighting. Please let’s not have these issues, we are bigger than this.’ he said
‘Hmmm..’ she responded. His words resonated with her and she realised that she also did not want to have issues with her husband.
‘So, you say that there isn’t anything going on with that girl?’ she asked again
‘Nothing’ he responded
‘Promise?’ she asked
‘I swear on my life’ he said, sounding very sincere
‘Ok Derin. Let’s start this on a fresh slate. I will talk to some of my friends and we will design the church hall very tastefully. We will need a budget though’ she said. ‘Do we have any loose cash?’ she asked, moving along speedily. Now that everything was cleared, they might as well commence with the project.
‘Halt!!!’ he said, stopping her flow as he came to stand in front of her, pulling her to her feet. ‘Do you know how much I love you?’ he asked, looking into her eyes. ‘I love you very much and I really want you to be happy all the time.’ he said, looking into her eyes intently.
‘This morning, I remembered the day we first met at the NYSC camp in Oyo’ he said, smiling at the memory.
‘That day, you were so hungry that you could not even fight for your rights’ she responded, teasing him as she too smiled at the memory.
‘Fight for what right? You know that soldier only listened to you because you were a girl. No guy could have tried that!’ he pointed out
‘No, you were an ajebutter boy that could not fight for your rights’ she said, laughing at him
‘Well, that was the day God sent me my guardian angel’ he said as he pulled her in for a kiss. Segilola felt warm and happy all over. It had been long since she and Derin had felt this type of peace. This was the Derin she knew and loved. She had to ensure that they were able to successfully hold on to the peace.
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