African woman

‘Are you still with me?’ Bro Ralph tapped the table gently to gain my attention.

I nodded, like a lizard.

‘Oh, I can see the news really took you by surprise…’ Ralph smiled, ‘but that’s no problem, I would leave you to ponder over it. I’m fully convinced you’re more than able to head the youths department in our church.’

‘Are you relocating or something?’ I finally found my voice.

‘Hmmm, temporary; I’m travelling abroad for my Doctorate degree.’

‘Congratulations, sir!’

‘You’re welcome. You just take your time and let give me the feedback soonest…’ he paused, and then gazed at the untouched sausage rolls and a pack of juice on the table.

‘Those snacks aren’t for decoration, Dabira.’

‘Thank you,’ I gathered the nibbles into my bag with a smile, but inwardly I felt like a deflated balloon.

After few more discussions, our meeting ended; and as we both parted, I had a strange feeling of abandonment.

Lord, why did you choose to surprise me that way? I ruminated as I walked back home that morning. My high hopes that the young man would say something about finding his missing rib, fell like a pack of cards before me.

‘Five missed calls!’ I muttered to myself as I checked my phone.

The calls were from my friend, Bimbo. I had promised coming to spend the public holiday with her, but after my encounter with Bro Ralph,  every enthusiasm diminished.

‘My driver is already waiting at your residence,’ her text message further read.

At that point, I wished I had not made a promise in the first place, but the impatient look on the face of Baba Tola, her driver the moment I got home, left me with no option than to speed up with my preparations.

I arrived at the home of the Komolafes exactly at noonday. The festering smell of rotten eggs wafted across my nostrils the moment I entered the sitting room. As though that was not enough,  the sight of used diapers lying carelessly by a corner of the sitting room, almost made me vomit.

Bimbo heaved a sigh of relief the moment she saw me. The cries of her babies blared simultaneously as though they were warming up for a crying audition. Carrying one of the babies on her arm, and while the other baby was strapped behind her back, Bimbo’s eyes appeared slightly reddish.

‘What’s the matter, Bimbo?’

‘Please I’m so sorry for the mess,’ she spoke with pain in her voice, ‘my house-help suddenly ran away yesterday evening; and a few hours later, her guardian called to inform me that she doesn’t want her to continue working with me…’

‘So is that the reason everywhere is in a mess?’ I mustered enough willpower to contain my disappointment. I found it hard to believe that the lady whose home was always sparkling clean each time I visit her could be so careless.

‘Well, let’s thank God she didn’t run away with your babies,’ I continued.

And while we spoke, her oldest child ran out suddenly from the bedroom, with both arms on her bottoms.

‘I want to pooh!’ she announced,

Bimbo stared at her helplessly; and without much ado, I relieved her of the babies while she attended to her daughter.

The tone in Bimbo’s voice as she later recounted her litany of setbacks later in the day when all her kids were fast asleep, jolted me.

‘Dabira, how I wish I could wound back the hand of the clock,’ she began solemnly, ‘I wish I was still single…’

‘You can’t be serious, Bimbo,’ I laughed, ‘you want to be single; why?’

‘Dabira,’ she continued, ‘you have all the time in the world to yourself…but I don’t. Before I got married, I already had an expectation of how my home would look like. Bode promised, he was going to allow me work with my degree the moment  Ibidun turns two, but sadly,  barely five months before my little girl’s second birthday, Bode told me he wanted another child…’ she broke down into tears.

‘And then i had a set of twins and you won’t believe me, they are eight months old, and I’m already… ‘

She broke down in tears again.

‘No, Bimbo, don’t tell me you’re pregnant!’ I shook her gently, ‘are you?’

She nodded.

I was dumbfounded. Four years of marriage and already expecting the fourth one!

‘Dabira, I made a big mistake as a single…’

‘What mistake? You have a loving husband, comfortable…’

‘Please hold it! You’re right, but my only regret was that I never planned for the married life. While I was still single, I spent a greater part of my time fantasizing over having a big society wedding ceremony more than the marriage proper. I never planned for the challenges in marriage. I had always had people at my beck and call while I was growing up and so, I never developed a dogged spirit. Although my natural gifting is in counselling and public speaking, but I never took time to develop that area of my life. The only thing I can boast of now after my university degree is my hair-dressing skills which I learnt during my NYSC.’

‘At least, you can leverage on that, Bimbo; you’ve been my hair stylist for a year now.’

‘But where is the time now, Dabira?’ Bode, doesn’t want me to do any strenuous job…’

‘Okay, let’s assume you are single now, Bimbo, what would you had done differently?’

‘I would have taken time to prepare my mind for the task ahead,’ she spoke with a new zest, ‘I would have actively be involved in  youths empowerment; I would have expressly defined my goals in life by convincing my future husband that I have a purpose in life other than making babies…’

Bimbo could not continue anymore. The agony suppressed any further words.

My visit to Bimbo was indeed an eye-opener. I learnt a hard lesson of never wasting my time anymore bemoaning my single status. I would keep building capacity for the task ahead of me.

Suddenly one of her babies awoke and began to cry uncontrollably.

‘Dabira, please could you please  make Kehinde sleep,’ Bimbo pleaded, ‘I’m feeling sleepy and worn out already.’

‘No problem.’

I assumed the responsibility of the mother temporarily, while Bimbo slouched onto the bed and was fast asleep in less than ten minutes like someone without a care in the world.



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