The weather was in agreement with his mood. A slice of sun peeked through the thick curtains. The brightness boosted Tolu’s positive outlook. He would not go through the day depressed as he had done for the past few days since Ebika told him of her introduction. Ebika was free. Ebika’s love was all for him.
He looked through the suits in the wardrobe. His eyes settled on his navy blue suit. He pulled it off the hanger. He dropped it on the bed and picked out a small box that held his gold tie and cufflinks. He must look his best on the first day he was meeting Ebika as a single woman since they met again. His wife’s face floated into his mind.
‘Eladebi.’ He called out softly. ‘Eladebi.’ He repeated again. He rested his head against the wardrobe. ‘My children.’ He held his head in his hands. Again he questioned the rightness of what he was doing. His heart beat a steady rhythm of guilt. How could he do such heartless thing to Eladebi? He pondered.
“I can’t help what I feel for Ebika!” He screamed into the silent room. He pushed away from the wardrobe, balled his right fist and banged it against the door of the wardrobe. “My heart only yearns for Ebika now. I do no wrong to Eladebi. I just need to be with Ebika.”
He repeated this a couple of times, took a deep breath and continued his preparation for work. He however lost his earlier glee. He dressed up quietly and took his briefcase. He sat on the bed and placed the briefcase on his laps. He popped open the lock and lifted some papers. Just below the papers, he took out what had prompted him to open the briefcase in the first place.
The picture he had carried everywhere since they met again and rediscovered their love and passion. He looked at her smiling face.
“You’re worth it, Ebika. I’ll give all up just for you.” He brought the picture close to his face and placed his roundly-shaped lips on the picture. “I love you, my heart: just you.”
A knock sounded on the door, causing him to jump. The picture fell from his hand. He scrambled to pick it up and dropped it back into his briefcase along with the papers he had removed before.
“Who is there?” He called in an angry tone.
“Good morning, my love.” Eladebi answered in a cheerful voice from the other side of the door.
“What do you want?” He demanded, all traces of affection from moments ago gone.
“Well, I wanted to tell you that your food is ready.” She told him.
Tolu imagined her cheery face standing right outside the door beaming with smiles, sounding so sweet and innocent. And she was indeed sweet and innocent. He shook his head. Ebika was sweeter than Eladebi. He would stick to Ebika’s sweetness, beauty and intelligence.
“Just go. I’ll be right out.” He told her, picking up his suit again. He sighed with relief when he heard her departing footsteps. The earlier he sent her away, the better for his heart and his conscience.
He cast a glance at his wristwatch. “Whew!” He had spent more time than he expected. He had an appointment with Chris. He dressed quickly after that, but he still took his time to oil his hair and style it just the way Ebika liked it.
On his way out of the living room, Eladebi stopped him, bearing a tray with a ceramic kettle, a tea cup and two pieces of toast.
“Your breakfast is ready, my love.” She informed him with a bright smile.
Tolu’s face twisted with frustration. When would she get it? When would she understand that I don’t want her again? He cried within. He stepped away from her without saying a word.
“Honey, your breakfast,” She called to him in that cheerful voice again.
He snapped. He turned to her with a menacing look. He grabbed the kettle from the tray and sent the content spilling in her direction. She jumped away at the last minute avoiding what would have been a disaster sending the tray, along with the teacup, spoon and toast crashing on the floor. His children ran out of the room at the loud banging.
“Mummy!” They both cried, holding on to her.
Tolu noticed they didn’t come near him. They clung to their mum and all three raised fearful eyes to him. He suddenly felt like the devil himself. With a loud groan, he staggered out of the house.
Ebika’s eyes rested on the wall clock in the living room. Bina was waiting for an answer. What would see tell him? She looked into her plate of boiled yam and fried egg with no appetite at all. She wasn’t even in the mood to go to work. Was it really goodbye with Bina?
A hand rested on her entwined fingers on the table. Ebika jerked back. She looked up into the eyes of her cousin.
“What’s the problem, Ebika?” Douye asked, sliding into a chair opposite Ebika on the dining table.
Ebika looked away. “You startled me, Douye.” She replied.
Douye smiled. “You never complained in time past. You enjoy my creepy moves.” She teased, stretching her hand to touch Ebika’s cheeks.
Ebika dodged away from her touch. “I’m not in the mood, Douye.”
“You don’t have to tell me that.” Douye sneered. “It’s so obvious. Even the poor yam and egg on your plate knows that.” She forked a piece of yam and sent it to her mouth. “What exactly is wrong, Coz?” She quizzed again mouthful.
Ebika regarded her with distaste. “Maybe you should finish with your food first.” She said with barely concealed sarcasm.
Douye nodded and rushed through her food. All the time, Ebika thought of her predicament. Had she done the right thing by sending Tolu a message so quickly without any consideration? Should she tell Bina? She nibbled on her bottom lip.
“Done!” Douye said, letting out a belch.
Despite Ebika’s reservation, Douye had to know. After all, she was all Ebika had left. Doubara would never listen to what she had to say about Tolu and Bina. Letting go every queasiness about Douye, Ebika opened up.
“I broke up with Bina… or I think I want to break up with Bina.” She admitted, shaking her head in confusion.
Douye gulped down water from a glass before responding. “You think or you have?” She asked.
Ebika pushed back from the table. “I’m confused, Douye.”
“What is confusing you?”
“I want to be with Tolu, but I’m not sure. I feel like I’m rushing things.” She explained, chewing on her lower lip.
Douye sat up straight, pulling on a serious face. “You are right to want to be with Tolu, Ebika. You are not rushing things. After all, you’ve known him before now.”
Ebika stood up and placed her hands on the back of the chair. “But I’ve known Bina too.” She countered.
“That didn’t stop you from loving Tolu, did it? If your heart responded to Tolu, it’s because you allowed it. You did it because it is right. You feel right with him.” Douye went to stand beside her. “Your heart has drifted away from Bina. Don’t force it anymore. If your heart has chosen Tolu, it’s only fair that you let Bina go.” Douye touched her shoulder lightly and left her alone.
Ebika closed her eyes tight. She wanted to accept Douye’s advice, but something fought it within her. Yes, her heart has chosen Tolu, but why can’t it be happy with her choice? She shook her head. Better to follow her heart and that’s to choose Tolu. It was time to let go of Bina. She wasn’t the one for him. Destiny did not have both of them in its plan. Destiny had chosen Tolu from the onset, so despite the separation, they still found the way back to each other. No need to go against destiny. If she had no courage to face Bina, then her text message would do the work. She picked her phone from the table and unlocked it. Time to end it all with Bina and move on with whom her heart, and of course Destiny, had chosen for her.
The content of Ebika’s message didn’t surprise Bina. He shuffled his phone back into his pocket. He had been expecting it for hours since dawn. Something in him prepared him for the break. Even if a little part of him still wanted to work things out. Well, her message had put an end to that hope in him. The words from the message kept replaying in his heart. ‘I’m sorry, Bina. We can’t continue with our relationship. My heart has drifted away from you. I don’t want to keep deceiving myself and you. Your lady is out there. She’s just not me. I wish you the best with her.’
He waited for pain to seep through his heart, but felt nothing. All he felt was sadness. Sadness that everything with Ebika ended the way it did. He felt sad for the energy put into their relationship; the emotions, the plans, all gone down the drain. He rubbed his shaved head. He still could not figure out when she stopped loving him. He would never know. If his heart had not been preparing him for this moment, he would have been completely shattered. It would just take time to put a closure to everything he shared with Ebika. People would find out soon enough that they were no longer together. Better to start telling them by himself. The first person on his mind was Doubara.
And Bina knows his stand now. Do you think he should fight for Ebika’s love? Or should he just let go?