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Friendship, a simple word with a strong expression. Casting a look on someone and tagging them your friend is not as easy as time has painted it. It tore my soul apart as I watched Bade being lowered into the earth in a shiny wooden brown coffin. Truly, he was my friend. We loved, fought for each other, supported each other, and fought against each other, yet, he still made the final sacrifice by forgiving me. Only a true friend will do that. It all makes sense now, keep your loved ones close, you never know when they will breathe their last. There’s no point staying mad at that friend if you love him/her as much as you love yourself, don’t be like me, I feel burnt. It could have been different, but I let my ego and anger have the best of me. There is no justification, only guilt.
I was in trance until the pastor passed me the shovel, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” he chorused. As I covered his coffin with sand everything came to me like a flash, I caught sight of Bade standing beside me and helping me cover my mother’s coffin. I could practically hear his deep voice telling me, “Guy, you will be fine. Whenever you look back, I’ll be there.” Silence gave way from within me and I screamed, “Where have you gone now? Bade, I am sorry. Please come back. I don’t want to look back; something tells me I won’t find you.” With tears in my heart I turned around and found Bade smiling at me. His face was printed on every black T-shirt, with captions of ‘gone too soon’ and ‘rest in peace’. Like a dog that deafened its ear to the whistle of his master I wandered away from the cemetery, lost to the world around me.
Kike caught me staring at her and teased, “Mr. Man, you don’t have to steal an admiration, I’m all yours.” She packed her bag, swayed towards me and planted a kiss on my forehead with whispers of “I love you baby.” She was just discharged and I was there to take her home. As we walked down to the gate to pick a cab, she held my hand and I knew something had changed, she had grown lean and her tommy had protruded slightly.
“How long does she have left?” I asked the doctor earlier when he gave me a report on her medical status,
“Just about enough time to give birth, if she’s lucky enough” he gave a prognosis, “I can tell you it won’t get easier, but your love, care, attention and optimism will be great psychological boosters for her. Mr. Kunle, your wife needs you more now,” he concluded. A chapter had just ended and reality was barging in on me again, giving me limited time to recover from the blow it just dealt me. I was to be a father soon, and I didn’t even have what it takes. I shook hands with the doctor and exited the consultation room. I met Lizzy on my way out,
“I was just on my way to you. The nurse told me you were with Dr. Raymond” she explained, “yes” I answered reluctantly. We haven’t said a word to each other since herself and Keji found out Kike was pregnant, and I still couldn’t fathom a better way to explain it to her.
“Lizzy, I…I was hoping to talk to you” I spoke in a hesitant manner, but she was quick to respond “there is nothing to explain Kunle. It all happened before we met. Trust me, I understand. You have lost so much and you deserve that child. What’s important now is how to make sure Kike survives long enough to bare your child.”
“Thank you Lizzy” I muttered in humility, she pulled my cheek and joked, “This is the part where I am supposed to give you that big hug, but madam could be watching.” We both laughed. I was about to walk away when she chipped in,
“Keji on the other hand might deserve some explanation. She explained everything to me last night. I should spank the both of you for waiting till now for someone to speak up,” she said with a frown. “She is hurt, but I am sure she will get over it. She is leaving for school tomorrow morning; you might want to visit her today.” Lizzy departed and I returned to the female ward where I found Kike packing.
We arrived at home and I made sure Kike had everything she needed before setting out. I made her meal, prepared her bath and made sure she took her medication. On our way back from the hospital I informed her that I was going to Bade’s apartment to retrieve my stuffs, and box what’s left of his before sending them to his mum. On my way there I called Keji and persuaded her to wait for me two junctions away, I needed to explain to her the situation of things. She gave in after several pleas and I picked her up at the spot, she would help me with packing while I explain. The key was with Mr. Chukwu as the agent had informed. I met and expressed my gratitude for our previous encounter and he also gave his condolence on Bade’s demise. Unexpectedly, he minded his business and didn’t even act like he noticed Keji’s presence.
I locked the door behind us and knelt down, “Morenikejimi” I called, she turned to face me and she began to cry.
“I am sorry” I begged her, “I am sorry for everything.” I didn’t know why I begged her, I guess it’s because I wasn’t sure of what to say to her. She met me on her knees and did the same, apologized for pushing me to the world, in her words she claimed,
“If you are with another woman, it is because I shut you out of my life for a long time. I wish I knew better, I would have stood by you. Maybe our journey would have been through a different path. I am sorry for all the horror I made you face. I am sorry.”
“It’s not your fault” I counseled as she sobbed on. We hugged on our knees and we soon found ourselves kissing. Emotions rushed through our veins and we were naked before we knew it. I tried to continue but she was a virgin and the thought of Kike captivated my conscience. I withdrew myself from her warmth and we remained silent for several minutes, shy in our nakedness. She eventually pulled my head to her breast and promised to wait for me. While I was relieved that she was determined to wait, I was sad that Kike’s death was inevitable except a miracle happens. Keji turned my head to face her and demanded of me,
“Promise me Kunle.” My heart skipped, “Promise me that by the time this nightmare is all over I will be the mother of her child and you will be the father to ours. Promise me.” I held her hands and assured her that her wait wouldn’t be in vain.
In that defining moment she did that which only my mother ever did, she prayed for me in her nakedness. She placed both hands on her breasts and declared,
“As the Lord lives you cease to struggle henceforth. You have respected me and helped me keep my virginity, the Lord will favour you. Amen.”
However, that night I returned home to find Kike waiting. I planted a kiss on her forehead before she suddenly went on bended knee, removed her necklace, pointed it to me and asked me to marry her. Shocked, I screamed silently, “Kike!” She knelt on the other leg and emphasized,
“Marry me right now. Take this necklace in the absence of a ring and give me that which you cherish most in return. Let God be our witness, no man has to know.” Speechless, I accepted the necklace and gave her my wristwatch, the one my father handed me before he died.
“Till death do us part” she declare, and I broke my silence to echo the same. We kissed and made love like newly wedded couples. It might not sound like the proper thing to say, but I was in love with two women.
Months rolled by, the first few months as a married man weren’t easy but we pulled through. There were nights when I saw Presido in my dream; such nights reminded me that I was once a murderer. It reduce when I forgave myself, the thought of it still haunts me whenever I remember. Kike stopped working; she became fragile by the day. Lizzy and Keji were very supportive. The former took care of her health bills while then latter gave her huge moral support. We were like one big family. Fortune smiled on me and I secured a job as the manager of bar in a reputable hotel. The pay was fair, but the tips I got from the customers complemented my efforts. I was able to take care of Kike and my unborn child.
I was returning from work one night when I got a call from Lizzy. Kike was rushed to the hospital by Keji. I hurried down to the hospital where I met Keji; she explained to me that Kike had been taken into the OR. We waited for over ninety minutes before Lizzy exited the theatre, and we practically ran to her. Expressionlessly, she congratulated me,
“You have a son.” Keji clapped ecstatically, but I didn’t get carried away. I asked her, “Is Kike fine?” Tears rolled down her cheek, but she was quick to wipe it with her palm. With air of a professional Lizzy announced Kike’s death,
“She was strong for her baby. She stayed alive long enough for us to get him out. She didn’t make it.” My fingers locked on my head but the tears refused to flow. I grieved because she gave me a million and one reason to always remember her. She was in pain, yet she always made me smile. She exhibited the courage of a warrior. Keji and Lizzy hug me, she touched our lives.
Lizzy handed me the baby. I took my first gaze at him and all I saw was a split image of Bade.
Written by Femi Fragile (Twitter: @fragiletimbzz | IG: femifragile)