Tori got to Janice’s place while Ebiere waited in her car for her. Janice wasn’t home (as fate would have it) and the person Tori had to meet in the sitting room, reclining on the couch with legs stretched on a wooden stool before her while sipping a red liquid from a small glass cup in one hand (a liquid Tori was dead sure was alcoholic) and a half-bitten Burger in the other hand with her hair looking as ruffled as ever. Tori had to conclude if depression were to be human, it would look exactly the way Cleo looked right now.
She was mummuring inaudible words to herself and Tori wondered why she had to get drunk this early.
This is how Cleo had been living ever since she broke up with her boyfriend. If she wasn’t drinking or stuffing herself to death, you should be sure she was snapping at Tori or Janice or whoever came her way.
She locked herself indoor almost everyday and Tori was actually surprised she met the door opened when she got home.
Tori went inside and got her belongings before Cleo (who didn’t even know anyone entered or just chose to ignore which is another very possible option) noticed her presence and start her annoying rants.
She is an adult for goodness sake!
She should know how to handle a break up and not immaturely as she is right now.
Handle it by not eating and drink herself to death, bloating in the process in just a few days. Tori parked her things quickly and noiselessly, not wanting to draw Cleo’s attention to her.
‘You are moving out?’ Cleo asked standing up from the couch with the drink still in one hand while she took a big bite from the Burger in the other hand leaving only a size a few times larger than a crump. She could barely maintain her stance as it felt like she would fall any minute Tori was in the sitting room and now that she took a good look at Cleo, she really was drunk. Like super drunk and…
Tori couldn’t help noticing the bulging stomach from under the stained crop top she wore. How could she have grown this fat in just a few days! Cleo really needs help and clearly not from her.
Cleo would never take her serious. It’s like everything she ever says is garbage to her.
‘Yeah.’ Tori replied as she looked at Cleo who seemed elated by the news. She was coughing through a full mouth while trying to laugh.
It was a mockery go wrong and it somehow looked like she was choking but one can’t really tell because she still laughed whenever she wasn’t coughing.
Tori was irritated by Cleo’s ‘coulaugh’ (The short form of coughing and laughing at the same time) and all she could do was raise her mouth in disgust. Tori swallowed the insult and just summoned up as much courage as possible for the last thing she has to say to Cleo before she finally leaves and pray they never see again.
‘Thanks for letting me stay.’ That was as sincere as sincere could be. Actually there was more sarcasm than sincerity.
Tori walked past her turning deaf ears to the last thing Cleo said but apparently, she heard anyway.
‘Not to worry, you won’t see me again.’ Tori yelled back in reply to what Cleo said to her.
‘Thank God for that!’ Cleo screamed after her.
Tori sighed when she got outside. Feeling all relieved with the realization that she wouldn’t have to worry about coming home and getting snapped at for nothing.
Ebiere’s driver helped her with some of her bags and they both emptied them inside the trunk of the car before they finally head to Ebiere’s place.
‘…You should talk to her. She could really use some help right now and…. Oh oh!…’ Tori stopped talking like she just remembered something. She was calling to inform Janice on the ride to Ebiere’s place about her moving out and somehow, their conversation had switched onto Cleopatra.
‘What?’ Janice asked from the other end knowing there was more to Tori’s ‘oh oh’.
‘Now that I think of it, Cleo looking all fat with a bulging stomach and other symptoms I noticed about her somehow suggests she is pregnant. It just popped into my head!’ Tori explained. She could tell from the corner of her eyes that Ebiere was listening to her conversation. maybe it’s not such a good idea talking about Cleo right now.
‘You know, I’ve noticed too but I just can’t jump to conclusion like that considering the speed at which food pass through her mouth and her temper. I just thought distress made her look like that.’ Janice said before adding, ‘Do you think she got kicked out by her boyfriend cos she was pregnant and he doesn’t want the baby?’
‘I don’t know and that’s the more reason why you should talk to her. She is into too much alcohol and all these unhealthy junks she eats won’t be doing her any good. You really need to talk to her ASAP’ Tori said.
‘Well, I stayed away from her because of her recent temper. She even flares up when you call her name but it’s okay, I’ll try talking to her.’Janice agreed and Tori said her quick bye before ending the call.
‘A friend?’ Ebiere asked not looking at Tori but at her phone as she tapped on the screen.
‘Yeah. She was the one who took me in.’ Tori explained hoping Ebiere wouldn’t dwell on Cleo’s part and thankfully she didn’t until they got to her place.
The gigantic black gate slid open and Tori marvelled at the beauty of the house as the car moved inside after which the gate slid closed again. A middle aged man was behind the slidding of the gate
‘You can stay here for as long as you want.’ Ebiere said and Tori guessed she said that because she saw how awed she was.
On getting down from the car, a teenage girl looking something around sixteen to seventeen years old ran to the trunk of the car after kneeling to greet Ebiere and her. She carried her bags inside with the help of the driver. When the girl came outside after dropping her bags for further commands from Ebiere,
‘Where is Johanna?’ Ebiere asked her as she unstrapped her hand bag, handing it to the girl who took it almost kneeling.
‘She went out a few minutes after you did. She didn’t say where nor did she say when she’d be back.’ The girl replied before Ebiere dismissed her.
Johanna? Is that her supposed cousin’s name? Tori wondered.
Tori didn’t know why the mention of Johanna smelt like trouble. Her boss couldn’t possibly be the only Johanna in the whole world.
Maybe she was being all jumpy over nothing.
‘Let’s go in.’ Ebiere urged as she led Tori inside the building. Tori sat on of the posh sofas in the sitting room and surveyed the sitting room.
All she could see were artworks and sketches. No family picture to confirm or dismiss her doubt of her cousin being her boss. A possibility she doubted herself.
‘We really didn’t take pictures because we didn’t really live together as a family.’ Ebiere answered Tori’s thought and Tori couldn’t help wondering how she did that. ‘Everything should change now that you are here.’ She added smiling up at Tori as she sat on a three-seater adjacent Tori’s seat.
‘Did you just get back?’
The tall, elegant and ever ravishing lady that just entered the sitting room, saying that statement as she walked to Ebiere appeared to be Dr. Johanna, her boss.
Okay, that’s it. She had better go back to Cleo.
Jo didn’t notice Tori’s presence in the room but only sat on the armrest of the chair her mom sat on.
‘Where have you been?’ Ebiere asked Johanna as she looked up at her daughter.
‘At Tobi’s.’ She replied. ‘ His uncle died yesterday and I just had to be there and who is…’ Jo was about asking before directing her gaze fell on Tori who cowering under her intense stare.
‘Why are you here?’ She asked immediately she saw who that was and Tori could see the fire blazing in her eyes.
Okay that was just imaginary. There was no fire but something that suggest fury hung there like a part of eye.
‘Why is she here mum?’ Jo asked her mum not realising she was screaming when it doesn’t look like Tori would give her an answer.
His uncle may be a useless, self centered and wasteful person who calls Tobi stupid and reminded him a lot about how much hates him and why Tobi was the reason he felt fulfilled not having a child because children sucks whenever they fight or argue. Well, the fact that remains unchanged was that the deceased remains her mum’s only brother. Sibling actually even though both weren’t even related by blood but by the marital union of their parents.
And that’s why they are all in black. All three of them. With a straight face even though it’s sad he’s dead except for his mum who kept sobbing every forty minutes or so at the loss of her only brother.
The few people that came visiting were people from work and Tori and of course, Jo. A sign which shows his uncle had no real friends. That is if he even had fake ones or any friends at all.
The whores he spent his whole life impressing didn’t show up when he died. Murdering himself because of his stubbornness makes much sense compared to dying like he wasn’t guilty of his own death.
Tobi was mad.
Mad at his Uncle for living that way.
Mad because he doesn’t even know why both of them didn’t settle their scores before he finally left.
A knock was heard on the door and Tife said a soft ‘come in’ while Tobi waited for the ‘knocker’ to come in thinking it would be one of the company’s security men who came to say his condolences like the last five people that visited but in came his dad in a black suit.
He kissed Tife on the forehead then went over to his mum who seemed to have increased the intensity of her crying.
That is just pure pretence and first class deceit!
His mum should have just said she wants to get all cuddly instead.
Tobi locked gaze with his dad who looked away to run his finger’s through his wife’s hair as he tried to shushed her to calmness while saying soothing words to her. His mum kept nodding leaning closer to his frame sweetly.
Tobi couldn’t watch anymore. Old adult’s romance could be nauseating.
‘Do you have some minutes? We need to talk.’ Tobi said to no one in particular but his dad and everyone in the room knew who it was meant for. Tife gave him a grateful smile while his mum looked at him in shock.
Tobi stood up and went outside. He walked inside the hut before the house and sat on the bench there. His dad exited the building too and came to join him there. When his dad sat beside him, he stood up.
Both were silent.
‘Okay. This is it.’ Tobi started clearing his throat and putting on a serious face while he rested his hands on his hip.
‘I don’t know why you suddenly showed up here and I don’t know what you said to mum, which literarily brainwashed her. One thing I know that can’t change is you abandoned us and I don’t know why you did that and I don’t even want to hear your excuses.’
Okay the last part was a lie.
He badly wanted to hear his dad tell him why he left but he wasn’t going to let his guard down that easily.
Tobi bit his lower lip before continuing.
‘Mum was hurt when you left. She was badly heartbroken and I think it’s not too late for you to take back your lies and leave her alone before you hurt her again. We were fine without you. You shouldn’t make things worse for us by appearing in our lives again.’ Tobi knew this wasn’t the ‘talk to your dad’ that Tife and Tori meant but it feels good letting it out.
‘And why would you think I’d lie to your mum?’His dad asked and Tobi acted like he didn’t hear him well.
‘Are you seriously asking me that? You left us without saying anything. For years!..’Tobi was cut short by his Dad.
‘And I’m sorry! But the thing is, I’m not only here for your mum but for you and your sister as well. I’m here to set things right…’ His dad tried to say but Tobi didn’t let him exhaust his words.
‘And you think you could set those things right even in fifty years? You don’t even have anything to say for yourself for leaving….’ Tobi argued.
‘That’s because you never let me!’ His Dad said. Tobi was silent then sat beside him.
‘Let’s hear it!’ Tobi said spreading his hands like whatever his Dad was about to say doesn’t really matter. ‘Tell us about leaving us to make another family somewhere!’ Tobi said sarcastically.
‘When I married your mum, I had nothing.’ His dad started and Tobi listened even though he acted like he had no interest.
‘I was a nobody and your grandfather hated it that his daughter married someone like me. He thought I married your mum because of his wealth. I tried to prove him wrong. Tried to get a job but it was like an impossible feat. You probably had no idea because you were so young.’ His dad paused for a while before continuing.
‘Then, I ran into a course mate who volunteered to help me. He told me about working in Ghana and that he’d let me know whenever he has a job for me. I got an unexpected call from him on your birthday about some interview in Ghana and he said I had to come as soon as possible which made me forfeit your birthday for it thinking my life became just better. I don’t want to go into details but it ended up I was tricked into robbery. I got arrested as an accomplice and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment. When I got out, coming back home wasn’t on my mind because I was a failure right before I left home and I couldn’t possibly face you guys when I became worse. I was determined to succeed before ever coming back to you. It wasn’t easy at first because no one was willing to employ an ex-convict but as time went on, I ran into luck. I ran into a big businessman who ignored my past records owing to the fact that he liked my business ideas. And after a few years, here I am.’ His Dad said and Tobi listened not ready to trust him nor believe him yet.
‘I told your mum never to tell I was an ex convict. I was worried it’d hurt your pride but right now, I have no choice but to tell you. I just want you to know I’ll never leave you guys. You are the best thing that ever happened to me.’ His dad added.
Tobi stood up abruptly batting his eyelids as he avoided his dad’s eyes. He said nothing. He just looked right into space for a while before walking back inside leaving his dad in the hut.
It’s heartbreaking to think that love might just not catch up with you. That night, after Smith walked out at the bus station, I sat down there for hours wondering how this situation had come Read more…