For the life of me, I couldn’t fathom at first why dad use to say there’s a difference between six and half-of-a-dozen but now, it all adds up.
Lakunle and I were posted to Kaduna for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I barely could pick him out at first as many of you know, orientation camp is where you will see many fine boys, as in; mouth-dropping-gorgeous dudes that gets us analyzing and giggling and investigating to find out if the guy is seeing someone. In some cases, some girls don’t even care if they are engaged or married; but that’s not me.
The last week at camp, I went for evening fellowship. Sitting next to me was Lakunle. I usually keep a straight face but his cologne was really good that I had to catch a glimpse. That glimpse was my undoing. I became so self-conscious and my imaginations did not help matters. I almost did not realize when service ended as I was in fantasy’s lane.
He gave me a nudge and held my hand as we sang “the family song”
“I love this family of God, so closely knitted into one, they have taken me into their arms and I’m so glad to be a part of this great family”.
I lavished every single moment singing the song as it both made me feel relaxed and that he held my hand. That was how he did not let go of my hands. He said if I didn’t mind him buying me dinner at mami market; I obliged.
Few days to passing out, they already had a nickname for us; Jack & Jill. I was so into him that if my Jack literally fell down a hill, I would tumble after him. Everything was happening superfast but none of us was ready to reduce the pace.
We were out of camp on a Tuesday and he was posted to a different local government - 4 hours away from the state capital where I was. Saying goodbye felt like heartbreak. I sulked for three days stretch as I could barely even make any tear-free sentence when he called to check up on me.
Saturday morning, I heard voices saying Jack! Jack!! From a distance. I brushed it off as I thought my mind was playing a fast one on me. Someone knocked on my door and it was Lakunle. I was shocked and speechless as I felt my emotions gush like a fountain.
He dropped his bag, grabbed me and gave me a very long kiss. After we cooled down, he said he couldn’t stay any longer without seeing me and that he wants to move in with me. I said yes without hesitation but I was already battling with my conscience. I quickly excused myself to the bathroom. Looking at the mirror, I asked myself if I was ready for this.
My head knew I wasn’t, but my lust and emotions aided in drowning the voice of my conscience. That was how we stayed together for the whole service year. We exploited our bodies and whatever our hearts thought and set out to do, we did.
7 years later, we had long lost contact and all attempts to connect with each other prove abortive. I later went abroad for my masters and PHD. I got a job and a resident permit. I met this devout guy, Bolaji who worked in the same office I was but a different department. He was born in America and has only been to Nigeria just once as a child. He loves God and respected me. He proposed but I told him if we get married we will still come to Nigeria to do our traditional wedding. He agreed and we got married.
Three months later, we were in Nigeria for our traditional wedding in Lagos. We planned to have dinner with their family the night prior to the traditional wedding. We had started eating when Bolaji got a call. He told me he wanted to go show his step-brother in that was at the gate. He added they haven’t seen or heard for over 15 years and that he just got in from Germany on hearing the news. That he didn’t want to miss that.
Bolaji walked in giggling and holding on tightly to his brother only to discover it was Lakunle. I choked on the wine I was having on seeing him. While everyone motioned towards me, Lakunle was frozen and slowly took a sit at the table. Bolaji knew me well to figure out it was on seeing Lakunle that the whole thing happened. He also observed how I tried not to look at his brother.
It was bedtime when Bolaji walked into the room. He told me his brother said he couldn’t stay for the wedding anymore as something came up that he had to leave first thing tomorrow. That he couldn’t place why the sudden change of his brother’s attitude towards it and wasn’t saying much either.
I tried to hide the tears from my eyes but he noticed and asked me to tell him everything. I have never lied to my husband and didn’t know how I was going to get away being a very detailed man that he is.
For the life of me, I couldn’t fathom at first why dad use to say there’s a difference between six and half of a dozen but now it all adds up. He used to say the truth is absolute and anything that will make me ashamed to say it like it is, I should not be involved with it.
I told Bolaji everything but that changed everything thereafter.
3 days later...
We stayed a bit to spend some time with our families and visited some friends before we travelled back.
It was 13 hours of silence sitting next to Bolaji “my husband” on our way back to Houston after our traditional wedding. When I asked him what was on his mind, he’ll feign a smile and say “nothing”. Trust me all kinds of thoughts ran through my mind. I know that he’ll never hit me even if I solicit for it but I felt hitting me was somewhat better than this silent torture.
“Titi, we have landed” he said tapping my hands slightly. He did not allow me carry any of my hand luggages even when I insisted. When we got home, I was still very tired and sleepy. I sat on the couch in our living-room to remove my shoes. I slept off before I could remove the other pair of my shoes.
I heard knocking from a distance. I tried to compose myself after jolting from shock but it wasn’t working. The knock became closer. I heard it landing on the door where I was. I couldn’t really pay attention as I was trying to figure out what was happening. How did I get here? Whose nightwear am I wearing? The room was definitely not mine. “Room Service” was followed by the knock on the door again.
I could hear the shower running in the bathroom. “Bolaji is that you?” I called awaiting to get a response to calm me down. I heard mumblings from the bathroom and thought within myself, he definitely pulled a surprise for me.
I went to the door and it was the waiter with breakfast on a trolley. He greeted me with a smile and went straight to the table to set it up when I let him in. I caught a glimpse of the Hilton logo on his jacket and realized the hotel I was.
Was this another honeymoon or what? I was enjoying it but was still puzzled how the same person who didn’t speak to me all through is suddenly being overwhelmingly nice. Was happy to tag along hoping that I will get to know what was on his mind.
I lost touch of time and felt really famished. I already started helping myself with tea and the nicely prepared waffles when I noticed the shower stopped and the door opening. I was looking towards the door with a radiant smile to catch Bolaji’s gaze.
Jesus! I exclaimed with great trepidation. The waffles I had, feel off my mouth. This must be a dream! I said out loud “it can’t be”. It was Lakunle. He said I should take it easy that he will explain. “Explain what?” I quickly covered the exposed part of my thighs.
I was heading straight for the door but he got there before me, stretching his hands apart to stop me. I just wanted to get out but he wouldn’t let me. I threw things at him and tried to push my way through while putting up a good fight but he said I needed to hear him out, holding me firmly. That point I had a flash back and realized how I missed being in his arms but I knew this was trouble if I relaxed.
“Where is Bolaji?” “How did you get here?” “I saw you leave back in Nigeria” “How did you find me?” “Where is my husband? Where is Bolaji?” I asked all these questions one after the other in a loud voice. Lakunle kept insisting there’s something I needed to know.
I came out of his arms and told him I was listening. He told me he actually boarded the same plane with us but sat some rows behind so we couldn’t see him. That he wanted to know where I was staying in the US. “Are you kidding me? So where is my husband?” I interrupted.
He told me he was going to get there but I needed to listen. I was already getting visibly impatient. He said I was the cause of everything and that it wasn’t meant to have come this far but I indulged him. “Are you out of your mind? How can you put this on me? Weren’t you the one that came back to my room in Kaduna?” I asked furiously.
“Titi yes I came over but I couldn’t stand your tears over the phone. It felt like you were going to die and didn’t want that to be on my conscience. That’s why I am back to apologize to you in person. I really want more though but you are married to my brother and I do not intend to come between you.” I had this swell of emotions and wept uncontrollably for minutes.
He came closer to pat my back on the couch where I was sitting. Then he knelt down in front of me to hug me. At that point I couldn’t really resist. I was too emotionally drained to fight back. I just needed some comfort and his came in very handy.
“I held on to him so tightly like he shouldn’t let go. The chemistry between us still
remained a mystery. While the thoughts of kissing him crossed my mind, he was already making a move. We started kissing but then I stopped immediately and told him I needed to use the bathroom.
I went straight to the mirror in the bathroom. Looking at myself I said almost inaudibly “Lakunle, this feels both right and wrong especially as I’m now married; married to your brother. But how can my past feel like a future at the same time? I’ve been through this path before and I am even yet to make things right. Titi you will be strong and you will fight for what is right. Dear Lord Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. I need your grace to help me through this to your praise and glory, Amen”
I washed my face afterwards and had my hair packed. Stepping out of the room he was already lying on the bed and had removed the towel he had on. I so wanted him my emotions echoed. I walked towards him slowly and covered him with the duvet. I told him that can wait and asked where Bolaji was. “In the hospital” he replied angrily. “He came out to greet your neighbor across your street and a bike hit him. I rushed him to the hospital and came for you afterwards”.
I fought the emotions and tears that was already swelling up within me. Which of the hospitals? “I want to see him right away” I spoke to him softly but couldn’t fight the tears this time. He put on his clothes immediately and said he was going to take me there. I got dressed as well and we left.
On getting to his ward, I met a doctor in the room. I introduced myself and asked how he was. The doctor said he has been stabilized but will be in the hospital for some days as he suffered some severe bruises. The doctor stepped out while I sat next to him. I held his hands and told him I was sorry while sobbing continuously until I dozed off. Lakunle had left by the time I woke up.
Bolaji was discharged 4 days later and I was supposed to resume back at the office the following day (Valentine’s Day) as our leave days had ended. The past two weeks felt like two years. I was not looking forward to tomorrow’s goodies like Bolaji usually spoil me with knowing he was just out from the hospital.
Walking into my office, the scent of freshly cut roses gave me a warm welcome. Next to the flower on my table was a beautiful cake and a lovely wrapped box. How did Bolaji pull this one off? I thought within myself. Opening the small card on the rose I saw “Courtesy Jack”. Seeing that ruined my whole mood immediately.
There was another note on the box with his hotel room number, 7pm and a concluding note ...the final goodbye... I was livid and looking forward to closing out on this chapter. I had my colleague Neye share the cake to the rest of my colleagues, and gave every member of my team a stem of rose flower. No one asked questions as it was my culture; sharing things. I was thankful but skeptical if Lakunle was going to be gone for good.
I was at his hotel room door exactly 6:59pm. As I was about knocking, Lakunle opened the door. He wanted to hug me but I quickly walked past and went straight to the chair and sat down. He asked if I cared for a drink and I accepted. He asked why I was smiling and that he wasn’t expecting I show up. I said but I’m here. I got a call and all I responded was “yes”. He asked who that was, and I said never mind and asked why he wanted to see me.
There was a knock on the door, and I asked if he ordered for anything. He said no but let him check. Opening the door he saw Bolaji. He was frozen and almost didn’t want him to come in. I stood up and went to Hug Bolaji. I told him he was just in time. Lakunle couldn’t understand what was going on. “Titi told me everything and I really didn’t expect you to stoop so low” Bolaji said. I never saw Lakunle that abased. He was so embarrassed and broke into tears. He knelt down and asked us to forgive him. Bolaji looked at me waiting for my approval because he knew how hurt I was from everything that transpired. I accepted.
Bolaji told him to stand up that we have forgiven him. Lakunle never bothered me again.