“I can’t believe this” Maryam exclaimed slamming her phone on the plastic table. It didn’t bother her that the phone’s screen was face down and may crack, maybe it was because it was a plastic table or because she didn’t care because she ignored it. It was happening all over again.
The last time it had happened was with Tokunbo. She had always been attracted to Yoruba guys, her last two boyfriends were Yorubas. It was an attraction she couldn’t explain especially as she had come from a family who were she would say embraced tribalism. She had hinted, pushed and probed but Tokunbo turned a blind eye. When it was unbearable she had asked him what he thought about her and he said she was the sister he never had. Perfect way to get friend zoned. After that they remained friends but she avoided his kind like the plague.
Everything in her told her not to let Ayomide in. Even Kevwe had reminded her of the past and she had held on till today. Till he came with his charm and surprises and romantic gestures. How stupid could she have been?
“What is it dear?” Tokunbo asked worried.
“Hey, babe are you okay?” Kevwe asked dropping the bracelet Matthew had got her and looking at her friend. From Maryam’s expression and the tone of the conversation that just happened on the phone, something wasn’t right.
“You know something told me it was too good to be true. That’s why I have been dragging my feet” Maryam spoke looking into empty space. The evening breeze blew her hair into her face. She smiled sadly as she pulled the hair out of her way. She had rushed to look proper, she had let her guard down and gone all mushy for another stupid Yoruba boy who didn’t appreciate her.
“What are you talking about?” Tokunbo asked. Everyone was looking at Maryam for answers. He stretched again to hold her but she withdrew her hands.
“What did Mide say?” Kevwe asked calmly. Just then Maryam’s phone rang again. A text message. She read it and started laughing. Now everyone was really confused. From rage to laughter, Maryam normally wasn’t like this.
“This just confirms it” Maryam said, then picking her phone she read out.
“Maryam I am so sorry for treating you this way. I never meant for things to happen like this, but I had to take my baby to the hospital, I am sorry. Please forgive me.”
Priscilla gasped, then quickly covered her mouth. Kevwe just stood. Even Michelle had a surprised look on her face.
“Wait, why are you all looking like this?” Justin asked.
“Babe be quiet” Michelle hushed Justin quietly.
“Maryam I know what this sounds like but don’t over think it. You should get an explanation” Tokunbo said calmly.
“Of course you will say that” Maryam flared up nearly knocking down the table as she got up. Even Kevwe was shocked. No one ever saw Maryam throw a fit. “Defend your fellow guy, your fellow tribe’s man. That’s how you all are now. Polygamous in nature”.
Tokunbo looked like he had just been slapped.
“If you are not friend zoning girls you are chea….” But she was cut short by Matthew.
“MARYAM!!!” He called her name clearly but firmly. “Before you say something you can’t take back go inside”. He had an unreadable expression on his face.
She looked at him, then at Tokunbo who had his head down, then she looked around. Justin’s mouth was opened, Michelle who sat beside him was looking uncomfortable. Priscilla was stunned. Kevwe pulled her and walked her into the house.
“Hey you” Kevwe popped her head into the room to see Maryam reading.
“Hey” Maryam said quietly. She was lying on the bed, a novel in her hand. A few days had passed since the Valentine day fiasco. The air in the house had been a little tight especially between Tokunbo and Maryam. She had been very evasive avoiding every possible place he could be. She had overheard him and Justin talking in the kitchen when she was going out, he had said he wasn’t angry but he felt she needed space to sort her issues out. Ayomide still had not called. Not like she would have picked.
“So what you doing?” Kevwe asked. She had been careful on how to approach the matter. Most times in their lives together it had been Maryam doing the analyzing and advising most of the time, she being at the receiving end. She had no practice.
“Reading” Maryam answered dryly.
“Everyone is in the parlour watching TV, you normally lead the gang for things like that. Why lock yourself away?” Kevwe asked sitting on the bed.
“Not in the mood” Maryam replied still not looking up from her novel.
“Okay, see come I’m not you. I don’t know how to psychoanalyze like you do. But I can beat you and I will because I don’t have any other thing up my sleeve” Kevwe said in her bossy tone.
Maryam had to laugh. “I’m okay dear. Just not in the mood and haven’t found a way to apologize to Toks, what I said was unfair” Maryam said.
“True but he is not like Justin. He is cool about it. No hard feelings. So just do it” Kevwe said.
“I know. That is why it is so difficult. I compared him to people far less than him. Toks will not cheat, and I shouldn’t have brought up the past about our inevitable friend zoning. That’s what makes it harder because he isn’t mad” Maryam complained sitting up. “If he had some anger I would say great, I know I deserve it. But he has even forgiven me. Heard him talking to Justin”
“I get you. Sha just do it and get your friend back” Kevwe said. They were quiet for a while. Maryam pondering on her friendship with Tokunbo. On a normal day after being friendzoned her pride would never have allowed her to still be close to Toks but he was a good friend, he and Kevwe had helped her in situations that she will not soon forget.
“Errrm has he called?” Kevwe asked trying to sound as normal as possible. Maryam knew who she was talking about.
“No” she said. They really had not spoken about it since that day. All Kevwe had done was advise her not to think about it.
“Hmmm so he was married, and has a daughter sef” Kevwe said shaking her head, “some men are just heartless. Why can’t they leave single girls for single guys? Why can’t they leave females alone period? They have their wives for crying out loud.”
“As in, I’m still baffled” Maryam said. “You know I have been having this feeling that the whole thing was too good to be true. Fine boy, great job, nice ride, travels a lot, an Abuja big boy obviously and na me him see come.”
“Haba what is that suppose to mean now? Who says you don’t deserve that?” Kevwe said.
“Haba Kevwe you sef reason am. No one ever comes without their baggage” Maryam said. Kevwe gave a look that indicated Maryam had a point. “I thought maybe he had some hidden habbits or issues as his baggage, or family wahala or something, but a cheating husband? I always felt those kinds will never get to me. Guess I thought wrong”.
“At least you found out before you committed” Kevwe tried to console her friend. She was the one with issues, she and Kenny still had not settled but her mind had been on her friend these past few days.
“Yeah, I guess” Maryam said trying to deny that she had not fallen for him.
“Pack it up as experience and move on. Don’t let it get to you” Kevwe said “and let’s go watch TV please” she climbed down the bed and started pulling Maryam.
Maryam’s phone rang. It was Ayomide. She looked at Kevwe. Kevwe saw the caller ID and took the phone, picked the call and put it on speaker.
“Hello this is Maryam’s phone how can I help you?” Kevwe sounded very official. Like a secretary that took her job very seriously.
“Hello, my name is Ayomide” Ayomide said calmly.
“I know, I can see your name on the caller ID” Kevwe said.
“Okay, I assume am speaking to Kevwe right?” Ayomide asked.
“Yes. Maryam is indisposed at the moment, do you want to leave a message?” Kevwe asked, she rolled her eyes as she heard Ayomide chuckle.
“Nice one, I am going to pretend you are correct, even though I feel she is with you. Since I can hear my voice echo I will assume I am on speaker” Ayomide said. Kevwe covered her face in embarrassment for being caught.
“So Kevwe please tell Maryam that I would like to see her to properly apologize and explain everything” Ayomide said.
“I will deliver your message but I will not encourage you to have hopes. Have a good evening” Kevwe said and ended the call.
“Oh my gosh Maryam am sorry. See as I guff” Kevwe said. But Maryam smiled. She obviously looked at it from the humour side.
“What do you think?” Kevwe asked.
“What do YOU think?” Maryam asked back. “What exactly do I want to hear? How his wife is not satisfying him so he needed something else? But I’m side chick so I should know my place? I’m surprised he didn’t tell me we will celebrate val on 15th”, she said the last part with venom and sarcasm.
“So no seeing him” Kevwe said.
“No seeing him” Maryam confirmed.
“Hey dear” Tokunbo greeted Teju as he entered into the compound and headed to the main door.
“Better find sweet name to call me oh instead of this ‘dear’ thing. Sounds like something I will call my brother” Teju replied. Tokunbo laughed as he adjusted his phone to his ear.
“I’ll think about it. Just getting home. Where are you?” Tokunbo asked.
“I’m just leaving Shoprite. Needed some stuff” Teju said.
“Did you buy me anything? Tokunbo teased as he opened the door.
“Did you ask me to?” Teju replied back. Tokunbo laughed. “Anyway are we still going for dinner on friday?” She asked.
“Will you allow me pay the bill this time?” Tokunbo asked.
“Haba, get over it already. I said sorry now. Have I not been nice ever since? I have only insisted on paying the bill only once after that” Teju answered him.
“Okay. Fine miss independent. By the way, these children have been disturbing me oh” Tokunbo said.
“Which children?” Teju was confused.
“These children in the house now” Tokunbo laughed. “Ouch” he shouted.
“You okay?” Teju said.
“Yes I’m fine. It is Justin, stoned me cause I called them children. Anyways they are tired of hearing Teju and not seeing you oh.” Tokunbo said.
“You know meeting your friends is like meeting the family. Don’t know if am ready for that” Teju said.
“You’re kidding right?” Tokunbo laughed. “Abeggi, it would be fun, but we will talk about it later. Let me settle in love” he said.
“Hmm Love, I like that. Find another to add” Teju said. “Talk to you later” and the call ended.
Tokunbo had reached his room and so proceeded to drop his office bag and change. As he put on a pair of three-quarters and a t-shirt. There was a knock.
“Come in thou who art polite” Tokunbo said with humor.
“Hi” Tokunbo turned to see Maryam at the door.
“Heeyy!!!” He said trying not to sound surprised. He didn’t expect her to be the one. The outburst on Saturday had been shocking but Tokunbo didn’t take it to heart for one reason. He had known Maryam had feelings for him but one thing she didn’t know was he had feelings as well but his immaturity or fear of losing the friendship they had which he so cherished pushed him into denying them both a chance. What shocked him was he didn’t know she still had it buried inside her.
“Toks….” Maryam started.
“It’s alright” Tokunbo said. Better to make it easy on her he thought.
“No it isn’t alright, it wasn’t okay. I shouldn’t have said those things” Maryam said looking down at her fingers. Urgh her nail polish was peeling off. “Focus girl” she told herself.
“I had no right bringing up the past. We made a mutual decision and now I go back opening old memories and even accusing you of being who you are not” Maryam said.
“Wait” she held up her hand as Tokunbo tried to say something. “Let me finish please. I respect you a lot Toks and I love our friendship, I didn’t mean what I said. I am sorry”.
Tokunbo looked at her for a while, then walked to her and hugged her. Maryam smiled. Toks, ever understanding. She could never get rid of what she felt for him but she could never love him like a brother, she would just settle for friends.
“Hey Maryam, Justin said you where her…..” Priscilla stopped in her tracks as she saw Tokunbo and Maryam. Both of them turned and stepped away from each other.
“Pris you wanted something?” Maryam said trying to avoid Tokunbo’s gaze.
“Someone is here to see you. Says he is Ayomide” Priscilla said.
“Are you kidding me?” Maryam’s face changed to rage. “How dare he come here? How dare he”. She stormed out of the room. Tokunbo didn’t know what to expect, but before Maryam goes crazy he decided to go after her.
“….. who gave you the right to come in here?” Tokunbo could hear Justin’s voice in the living room. The cavalry was already there to protect Maryam. As He entered the living room, closely followed by Priscilla, he saw Justin standing in front of a guy. Kevwe stood beside Maryam who was obviously getting upset.
Ayomide totally ignored Justin and looking at Maryam he said “please, just this once, hear me out and I promise to leave you be. Please” he looked downcast.
“What could you possibly want to explain to her? That you would leave your wife? You want to start a new life with her? You didn’t mean for her to find out like this?” Kevwe spat the words out in anger. Nagging boyfriends she could handle but she hated a cheat with passion. “You already said your family means the world to you didn’t you?”
Ayomide’s eyes never left Maryam, he said nothing, offered no explanation. He just waited. Maryam didn’t want to hear anything, she was weak from all the drama. And what possibly could he want to say? He didn’t even deny any of Kevwe’s accusations.
“You have a child for crying out loud Mide” Maryam busted out. That was the first time she had called him Mide. After all the pleading he had made. Ironic she thought. “Please just leave”.
Ayomide nodded and walked out. He walked to the gate and went to his car. Just as he open the door to enter the gate opened.
“Two minutes” Maryam said as she came out of the gate. “You have two minutes to exp…” She gasped in shock. Inside were two girls. A young girl not more than three years old and another in her teens. The little girl was already stretching towards Ayomide who picked her up.
“You brought her here?” Maryam said in shock.
“I needed to explain everything” Ayomide said hurriedly. Maryam shook her head and turned to go back, tears already swelling in her eyes. She couldn’t believe she wanted to give him a chance.
“MARYAM!!!” He called “I’m all she has, I am a single father”. Maryam stop dead in her tracks.
Muyiwa blogs at htttp://abluntnigerian.wordpress.com
You can follow him on instagram/twitter – @mfadarated.