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For the second time that day, Khalid felt like he was in a very bad dream. What was with the Oguntubos and reappearing from oblivion? First Seye, now Bode. He tried to sit up and say hi but before he could complete the movement, Bode swung a fist into his face. Aisha gasped and rushed to his side. The pain he felt was blinding but he said nothing. It was Aisha who spoke instead
“Bode! What the hell?! What did you do that for?!”
Bode rubbed his clenched fist in his left hand. His face was blank, totally unreadable
“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time now.”
Aisha looked scared and confused, totally unsure what to do. Khalid rubbed his nose and felt the blood.
“I’m sorry Bode. I have been looking for you for six years now-“
Horror filled Aisha’s face
“You two know each other?”
They ignored her. It was as though she wasn’t even in the room
“Bode, everyone told me she was dead.”
“It was convenient for you wasn’t it?”
“Bode, stop this. I messed up, I’m sorry. Seye has forgiven me, why are you still holding on?”
Bode shook his head.
“I’m not Seye.”
“I know that. But you’re her brother. I did not hurt just her. I hurt you too and I am deeply sorry-“
“Don’t patronize me man. I don’t need it. Save that patronizing for your followers and all those other people that gather to listen to you blab. I came here for one reason only and that is to let you know that sometimes the ones we love end up paying for the evil we do.”
Khalid looked at Aisha sharply and back at Bode
“What do you mean by that?”
“Aisha was going to pay for what you did…”
“What are you talking about?! What do you mean I was going to pay for what he did?!”
“Ask your fiancé. He raped my little sister six years ago.”
Aisha suddenly felt dizzy.
“Wait. What are you saying? You’re Seye’s brother?”
Aisha felt the blood drain from her face. This was a nightmare.
Bode smiled calmly.
“I think both of you should sit down.
Aisha did not need to be told. She sat down on the couch close to Khalid who put his arm around her.
“Did you ever tell Khalid about our kiss?”
Aisha wished the ground would open up and swallow her. She couldn’t even look at either of them. She felt Khalid’s grip loosen around her arm.
“Yes, she told me about the kiss. So?”
She wasn’t sure she heard right. She turned to look at Khalid but his eyes were fixed on Bode. Bode looked a little disappointed but he continued.
“Aisha, nothing about our meeting was an accident. When I discovered you were involved with Khalid, I decided to take my revenge. I’d been nursing it for a long time, waiting for the perfect time to execute it. I never schooled in Lancaster…”
Aisha’s mouth dropped open.
“I studied Computer Science and not Public Relations. We met at that training only because I was stalking you…”
Aisha was in utter shock. She could not believe it. Khalid simply looked on. He looked like he was impatiently waiting for Bode to get to the end of his story but he didn’t say anything.
“I wanted Khalid to know what it felt for someone you care about to be violated by someone they trusted. So I was bidding time. I followed you and gradually eased into your life. Two weeks ago when we went to Beer Barn, I drugged your drink. I was going to do to you as Khalid had done to Seye but you got really lucky.
Unlike your fiancé here, I’m not a cold ruthless beast. I just couldn’t do it. I find you attractive, yes. I became attached to you and found myself caring for you more than I meant to. I guess that also helped. I eventually felt guilty for trying to hurt you for something you had no role in and that’s why I’ve been trying to reach you since; to say I’m sorry.”
Aisha had tears in her eyes. Her emotions were a mess, all mixed up; anger, hurt, shame, disappointment. So Bode was on a mission after all? She should have told Khalid about the kiss! She really should have!
Khalid’s voice broke into her thoughts
“If that’s all you have to say, you can leave now.”
“I wasn’t speaking to you.”
“Me, her, same thing. You can leave now.”
Aisha found her voice.
“I think you’re cold, wicked and very selfish. I can’t imagine I called you my friend. Please leave my house.”
Bode looked at her and shrugged
There was an arrogant air of indifference about him. He walked out of the house and shut the door behind him.
“I can’t believe you kissed him and didn’t tell me about it.” Khalid shot at her
“I can’t believe I was going to get raped because of something stupid you did!” She fired back
“So this is somewhat balanced in your head? How on earth did you wind up kissing him and why did I never get to hear about it?”
Aisha sighed. She was tired.
“It was a mistake. It happened the night you and I had a fight after your return from PH. I was really mad ‘cause I thought you had cheated. We went out for a drink, I got drunk, I kissed him. It was nothing major. I’m sorry.”
Khalid rubbed his eyes. It had been a long day. A long month in fact but thankfully, it looked like it was all coming to an end.
“So why didn’t you tell me about it? I thought you said we had no secrets between us?”
“Says the guy who raped a girl and kept it a secret all this while.”
“That was different. Besides I opened up before Seye showed up.”
“I still can’t believe I could have gotten raped on your account.”
Khalid reached out to her. He was tired and he wasn’t going to push this any further.
“Come here babe”
Aisha got up and walked to him and he hugged her tight.
“We both made mistakes. Mine was graver and had more terrible consequences than yours and I’m sorry. I could have done some real damage to you without even meaning to and for that I am deeply sorry. Can you forgive me?”
There was no smile on her face but there was no frown either.
“I guess so. Maybe in time we’ll be alright. But for now I think we need some time apart.” She detached herself from his embrace and looked away from him.
“Time apart? Again? What do you mean?”
“It’s been a really rocky ride Kay. The past month has been tough with all the issues we’ve faced. Maybe we should just take some time out, do some personal appraisal and decide what we really want.”
Khalid looked confused.
“Are you breaking up with me?
Aisha didn’t respond.
“I’m talking to you. Say something.”
“Kay, I’m not sure. I’m just saying we need the time apart. Someone found me, stalked me and built a web of lies around me just to get at you. We went out together a number of times and I never suspected a thing. I’m not sure how I feel right now. It was all too convincing. I just need some time to get my thoughts together.”
Khalid looked at her and he felt utterly defeated. He picked his keys and walked out of the house. He had never had so much trouble and drama in his life while he was single. This was just too much.
“Sometimes love is not enough and that’s exactly what I discovered with Kay.”
“Relationships are hard work dear daughter. If anyone ever told you it was all fun, they lied to you-”
Aisha looked at her mum and shook her head
“You’re not getting me. I’m not saying it’s all fun. I’m just saying I love him but that’s it. I have nothing else on the table. No trust. It’s all gone. I feel like I’ll always be looking over my shoulder.
What if Seye decides she doesn’t want to forgive him again and she comes to baptize me with acid?”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“I’m not mum. If her brother who was not directly affected would want to rape me to get even with him then anything can happen. Mum, Bode came close, really close…”
“You were careless.”
“Really? So I should have asked for an ID or what?”
“Aisha. I’m not trying to make you change your mind. You asked for my opinion, I gave it. You’re not obligated to do what I say
You say you love him but love is not enough. Okay. Although I don’t know what you children call love nowadays. In my days, it wasn’t just a feeling. It was a choice to be with someone when they had shown you all there was to them. You’ve come to know Khalid in his entirety. You’ve seen him at his strongest and at his weakest. So what next? You can’t deal with his past? So you want to up and leave? You can’t deal with the fact that he made a costly mistake? Fine. You want to call off the engagement? Go ahead.”
Aisha watched her mother get up and leave the room. She really wasn’t ready. This was too much to deal with.
“How about we go back to Kenya together?”
Khalid watched his mother pack her things into her small bag. She always travelled light.
“I’ll just leave my life behind? Just like that?”
Mrs Sani smiled.
“We can work together. I’ll pay you good money.”
She winked and Khalid laughed.
“You know money isn’t the problem. I find fulfilment being here.”
“I know. Your father would have been proud.”
They were silent for a few minutes.
“I miss her mum. Very much.”
His mum smiled, a knowing smile.
“I know you do. Just give her time. Let her decide what she wants. If she doesn’t choose you, it’s her loss and not yours. I raised a solid man and I’m proud of you.”
They shared a hug
“Thanks mum. I love you.”
“I love you too son.”
Khalid was driving his mother to the airport when the text came in. he saw the light blinking but ignored it till they were parked at the international wing of the airport.
“Call me often…” his mum was saying. But he was not with her. His eyes were on his phone.
“I love you, past, present and future. Mistakes, achievements, failures. I love you and all that is you. I’ll come over tonight so we can talk and maybe start over. Clean slate, new beginning, no secrets…”
The twinkle was back in his eyes.
“I know that’s Aisha. Focus, I’ve got a plane to catch.”
“I’ll call you the moment we touch down. You guys keep me updated alright?”
“Alright mum. I love you. And thank you, for everything.”
She smiled and spared him a quick hug. He watched her walk briskly into the airport and the moment she was out of sight, he was hurriedly typing a reply.
“Clean slate. I’m all in. Went to drop mum at the airport. I’ll be home in 45mins or less. See you!”