So I’m totally a Sia and Christina Aguilera fan… I walked for so long, ears plugged, Aguilera’s “You Lost Me” on repeat. It was the same song I OD’d on when I found out he-who-must-not-be-mentioned had conveniently skipped telling me he had a kid.
“I feel like our world’s been infected…” Damn, that girl can sing! The words of the song poured into my ears… Not like the lyrics exactly applied to me and OMI’s situation, nahhh… Not like his son was a disease that infected our world… *smiling sadly* who would call a child a disease that’s come to infect things? Oh wait, I know some people who think if they’d not had their kids, they’d have been better off… Well, maybe their thoughts aren’t exactly misplaced, but I believe no child should be blamed by their parents for shit!
A million things were running through my mind all at once; Sewa was one not to be convinced easily, so whatever OMI had said to her must have been really convincing; how is the child not his? I tried to remember what the boy looked like, tried to remember if I noticed any resemblance between him and the boy; at what point did he know the child wasn’t his, assuming he was saying the truth about all this?
I took my phone out of my pocket and started to dial the number I’ve tried so hard to forget; the fact that it was a customized number didn’t help… after the initial 08098 for the Etisalat line, I punched in the six other digits that represented his birth details. The call was on waiting; just as I was about to hang up, I hear him call my name, “Corrine?” I did not know whether to go through with this or just hang up.
“Corrine, where are you?! Talk to me”
“Hey, there’s no need to yell.” I thought to myself, if I was going to give him a chance to explain things, something I should probably have let happen back then, now was the time.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to… I was just on the phone with Sewa; wanted to find out if you were back home. Where are you?”
I checked my watch, wasn’t too late to meet up somewhere private. “Meet me at Taj in 20?”
“Umm, of course!”
“And err… try not to keep me waiting? You know how fast I changed my mind.”
“I’ll be there, Corrine. I’ll get there before you.”
“Right.” I hung up and took a deep breath. I probably shouldn’t have added that part about changing my mind fast, but it just seemed like my tongue was poison ivy at the moment. I just wanted to lash at him endlessly. I was so angry; at him, at Sewa, at myself! I felt a hundred “what if” clouds hovering over my head! Aaaargh! Enough already! Time to go get this story straight, and get shii over with! I started to walk to the rendezvous.
I counted my steps as I walked into Taj, taking my sweet time. I approached the bar, my hoodie hung over my head, some of the folks stared as I walked past and headed for the VIP section. He stood up as soon as I entered the room, I slowly walked to him and my anger started to build again with each step. He was wearing a black tee and blue jean. What was wrong with this guy! He saw me when I stormed out of the house earlier, and he had to go and mirror what I was putting on?
“Wait, just wait right there? What is this? Ehn, McCarthy? Are you hoping to start some bonding thing right away, like right here?? What is this?” I gestured to his entire body.
“I don’t understand…” Then he looked at me, and understood! “Oh cmon Corrine, you said not to keep you waiting, I just grabbed the next thing I saw to wear and dashed out the door!”
The VIP section was almost entirely deserted that night, save for another couple and they were beginning to wonder what was going on. “Umm, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I overreacted. Please let’s sit down.”
Oh I was lying! I knew why I reacted like that and he knew it too. Back when it was good, we used to dress almost similarly; it was sort of like our thing. Like his Ecko Polo and my “top of many colours,” we had other clothing that we intentionally purchased so we could dress alike, and then we’d take pictures on days we felt we looked really good. Like this day:
“Would you like something to drink?” His voice jarred me back to the present.
“Yes, err… Red Bull will do.” I felt my mind begin to wander again when I heard his voice asking if I’d eaten. “I’m not hungry, thank you.”
I felt his eyes on me even though I wasn’t looking directly at him. Yes, we liked to dress similarly; we even had common interests when it came to colours and designers. We bonded over a couple of things, but I’d say the significant bonding was over clothes. Weird, right? When a girl and guy (who isn’t gay) bond over clothes. Well, we were like that.
“I’m sorry about earlier…”
“Which part? The ambush at the restaurant or at my house?”
“Ambush..?” He saw my stare, “Ok, ambush! I’m sorry and please don’t blame Sewa for any of this. I dragged her into it, and if it’s any consolation, she went all I-will-take-you-apart-piece-by-piece, woman on fire, Denzel-ish on me the day we saw. I pity the guy that’ll cross her!”
I actually laughed out loud for the first time that evening, and he laughed with me. Then our eyes met and I cleared my throat, “so errr… I asked us to meet here cos… well, Sewa told me the kid isn’t yours? I’d like to hear what that is all about while I’m still in errr… this state of mind, cos I might wake up tomorrow and not want to know. So umm… I’m listening.”
“Babe, trust me, I was shocked when I saw that it was you calling… let me just go straight to the point. Days before Titi came to the office, she’d been calling and saying stuff about keeping something from me, that we had a kid together bla bla. I tried to call her bluff. I know I should have told you and everything, but I didn’t know how… and I’m so sorry, babe, I’m so sorry…”
“Set aside the apologies for now, let me hear the rest?”
He sighed. “Ok, so when she came to the office, I knew she meant business. I set up a proper date, we talked, the period we were last together with the boy’s age, everything just… I didn’t have a reason to doubt her. So I met with her mother, and I took responsibility of the child.”
“So, you didn’t request for tests to be carried out?”
“DNA? No. Like I said, I swallowed everything she said hook, line and effin’ sinker!”
“Ooook!” I took a sip of my Red Bull. “Go on.”
“Yea… so I arranged for the boy to visit me some weekends, and I visit him at their house too sometimes. On one of my visits, I had barely parked my car when I saw Titi shove some guy out of the house. She was seriously arguing with him and the guy was yelling right back. I came out of the car to find out what was happening. My initial thoughts were whether she owed him money or something; and then I asked the guy, and he told me that he had come to talk Titi about his son.”
I gestured to the bar girl, I wanted another Red Bull. “His son? The same boy?”
“The very same boy. I was confused and lost. I looked to Titi for an explanation but none was forthcoming. Anyway, the guy told me how Titi had called him months ago telling him they had a son together, how he denied the child because he knew he didn’t want that paternal burden back then, but months later he sorta developed a conscience and wanted to be a part of his son’s life. And Titi was there telling him her son already had a father. Dude now turned to me like “Bros, won le gba iyawo ole, but won le gba omo ole now! Ka ma ri!” (trans. Bros, a lazy/poor man’s wife can be snatched, but the lazy/poor man’s child cannot be snatched! Abomination!) You should have seen me Corrine, I was dumbfounded, I felt like a fool; and the shock was even more when I took a good look at the guy’s face; the boy was… is his spitting image.”
“So what did you do?” I was getting hungry. I motioned to the bar girl again. “Can I get some fried gizzards? And another Red Bull to go with that?”
“Corrine, I don’t think that’s a good idea. That’ll be your third can tonight.”
“So?” He didn’t know what was going on deep down in my mind. I knew I was probably not going to get any sleep tonight; and I might probably spend the entire night arranging and re-arranging my wardrobe, but I didn’t care! “What did you then do?”
“Well, I turned to Titi and told her it was wrong to keep the son’s true father away from him and vice versa. It wasn’t fair to the child or the man! And then I turned, got in my car and left!”
“Just like that?”
“Yes. She called my number a few times, and I told her I was going to get her arrested if she didn’t leave me alone. I think she got the hint cos she eventually stopped bothering me. I wanted to find you so bad. But I just thought it wouldn’t make any sense bugging you. I figured you had moved on, probably married or something.”
“I did move on.”
“And I don’t blame you for it. But Corrine I’m sorry…”
“What made you change your mind? Why did you decide to find me again?”
“I saw Sewa at the bank a few weeks ago; and we started talking… and eventually, plotting.”
I rolled my eyes. “How did you know I was going to crash your date?”
“Actually… the guy you were supposed to meet that night? He’s a friend of mine, it was all arranged. He was supposed to cancel on you, but as fate would have it, you cancelled on him. We were hoping that if he cancelled, you’d get bored and crash Sewa’s date. She said you’ve done it a couple times before.”
I smiled. So Sewa was capable of roundabout plans such as this. Ok! “So really, OMI, what do you want me to do now? Fall back in love with you because suddenly you’re no longer a father? The way you even accepted the boy, it was like you had been praying to the heavens for a child and it happened!”
“The way I accepted the child? What was I supposed to do?!”
“No, I mean seriously, it wasn’t like you spoke to me about having children. Did you ever mention it to me once that you were yearning for a child?” Wait, what am I saying? Where are these words coming from?
“I did Corrine! Or at least I tried! You never really listened? You never let me finish talking… you just start talking about waiting till we had more money in the bank!”
“And what is wrong with having more money in the bank, McCarthy! You want me to have a child that will not be properly taken care of?!”
“Why didn’t you let me worry about that?! Oh my God, Corrine! Listen to yourself!”
The girl brought my gizzards. Thankfully, she had the thing packed as takeout. “Can I please get a bag for this and the Red Bull? Thank you”
“Listen, I appreciate that you errr… took the time to see me and that you explained some of this. At least, to some extent there’s closure. I’m satisfied with that. But there’s nothing I can do for you anymore. Our relationship crashed, and I’ve moved on and I’m in love with someone else!”
“Someone else? Sewa didn’t… Is it someone I know?”
I saw the girl approach with my bag. I stood up. “Actually, yeah, it’s someone you know.” I looked him in the eye, “it’s Sewa.”
“What?! You’re in love with Sewa? Same Sewa?”
“The very same!”
I grabbed the food, and began my walk out of Taj. Did I just do that? I shouldn’t have downed two cans of Red Bull.
This picture was narrated by moi, and the whole Corrine idea inspired by @fragiletimbzz
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