Guess who showed up?? TENISHA!!! Wah!!! Find out how Ken handles her sudden appearance. Happy Reading!
Nimi leaned against the kitchen cabinet at home lost in thought while she waited for the water she placed on the cooker to boil.
The rest of her workday had been filled with disturbing thoughts of Laye and mixed feelings for Ken. She had been corrected thrice by the Creative Director for mistakes that she would not have made ordinarily all because she was thinking about Laye’s warning. The third time, she had been sent back to her booth to clear her head.
Nimi sighed. She hadn’t cleared her head and had eventually left the work for tomorrow. It would be disastrous to keep working when her feelings warred within her. Concern for Laye and their friendship filled her like a sumptuous meal on an empty stomach while her growing affection for Ken warred with it.
A sizzling sound came from the cooker drawing her attention to the water on the cooker. She moved away from the cabinet and took down the kettle with a hand towel. She dropped the steaming kettle on the cabinet and placed the pot of melon soup she had made earlier on the cooker. She poured cassava flour into the steaming water and started stirring. Her stomach grumbled in response to the boiling soup on the cooker. She remembered she hadn’t taken anything else after the meal Ken shared with her because of Laye’s warning.
A smile spread across her lips at the thought of Ken. Ken, her boss; Ken, her friend and Ken, a friend of God. How would she relate to the different shades of him? She enjoyed being his friend; in fact, she liked it a lot. She related with him well as her boss because he seemed to have drawn a line between them when they were relating on official grounds. But what got her was relating to the singing-praying-and-Bible-reading Ken. He had spoken with so much conviction when he talked about the hymn and how it ministered to him each time he sang it. How could she relate with that? Three Sundays had gone by in the month and she had not visited any church for service. She had long stopped classifying spiritual things as important. Her father had made it easy for them all.
He couldn’t care less about fellowship of the brethren or oneness in Christ; he was only living for the moment and for himself. He didn’t need any pastor, priest and so-called men of God telling him how to live his life and condemning the way he lived. Or questioning his salvation.
Nimi understood the depth of her father’s feelings and had naturally accepted his decision and trod the same path with him. If he had given his all to the church and the church that should love him had turned on him the last minute and condemned him, then what was the essence of claiming to be one in Christ?
Her face hardened now as flashes from the past filled her mind eyes. Scene after scene she saw the faces that had judged and condemned them, she saw the tongues that had lashed at them and called her father irresponsible. She saw the body language of the church days after her father’s suspension. She saw the people who had treated them as outcasts. It hurt much more than the gossips and stigmatization of the ones who didn’t term themselves “righteous”. She bore their gossips and stigmatization of the public with anger and hatred towards the one who had caused it, but she directed her anger and hatred towards the righteous in the church who had rejected them.
Nimi shut her eyes tightly and fought the anger that still dwelt within her. She finished stirring the cassava flour and wrapped them in white nylon according to their number in the house. She turned off the cooker and served the soup into ceramics bowls. She lined them accordingly on the cabinet. She served her mother and father’s meals separately. Her heart ached within her when she set their meals on the tray.
She thought back to a time when they had always had their meal together as one big, happy family. Their home had been filled with laughter and joy. Their father had been a father indeed. He loved his wife and his children, he was committed to God. He gave his all without reservations. He was a role model to a lot of young people in the church. His family was the model family.
But then, her sister had fallen in love. It was the beginning of the end.
All had come shattering down soon after her wedding. Laughter had ended and bitterness had filled the once happy atmosphere. Tears pooled in her eyes as these unwanted memories assaulted her. She wiped it off in anger. Her sister didn’t deserve a single teardrop. She had caused her family’s fall. She had done the worst by leaving behind her son. Whose son is still a question they sincerely couldn’t answer? The husband had fought initially for the boy, but since her sister had been absent and her parents stood their ground, the boy was left with them. Her sister had been incommunicado since then.
Nimi gave a pitiful shake of the head and placed her parents’ meal on the tray. She moved to the dining and set the tray down on the table. She also took three wraps of cassava flour and dropped them in a flask, then she dropped it on the dining table. She went back to the kitchen to put it in order. She placed the bowl she had used to make the cassava flour under the tap in the sink and washed vigorously. She set it on the top of the sink after that for the water to drain. She dried her hands on the napkin and picked up her plate of soup. She was almost at the door when her mother came in.
“Good evening, mama.” She greeted.
“Good evening, dear.” She replied, her eyes roaming the kitchen. “You’re through.” She noticed.
Nimi gave a nod. She dropped her plate of soup and cassava flour on the cabinet, then she leaned against the door frame. “How was church?” She asked, her lips thinned in disapproval.
Her mother smiled at her. “Church was fine. You should also attend some time.” She encouraged.
Nimi looked away from her, giving a vehement shake of her head. “Maybe, I don’t know.” She answered, her eyes counted the ceiling.
Her mother moved closer and touched her arm. “When will you let it all go, Nimi? When will you leave your bitterness behind?” She asked in a soft voice.
Nimi felt her heart stir within her at her mother’s tone. She felt the tears piercing at her eyes. She shut her eyes to keep the tears at bay. She took a deep breath and released it slowly. She fixed her mother with a bland expression. “I refuse to be influenced by those ‘hypocrites’. I refuse to give them the right to tell me what to do.”
Her mother sighed. “It’s not about them, Nimi. I keep telling you and your father. It’s about God.”
“Then I don’t have to associate with them since they have no connection with God. I’d rather remain on my own and search God the way I want to.” She said in a decisive tone.
Pain filled her mother’s eyes, causing her to look older than her fifty-five years. “Please, forgive your sister, Nimi. She made a terrible mistake indeed, and she’s paying for it. It’s the reason why she can’t come back home. Forgive her I beg you.” She pleaded.
Disbelief flashed in Nimi’s eyes. “Mama, you’re telling me to forgive her?” She asked in an incredulous tone, eyes widened. She stood up straight, arms akimbo and fixed her mother with a strange look. “That girl ruined this family. She took away our laughter because of her selfishness. She humiliated Papa all because of her stupid emotions. My relationship with Raymond ended because of her and now you want me to forgive her? Oh no.”
Her mother held her hands in a desperate plea, her eyes filling up fast. “She wants to come back home, Nimi. Please, forgive her so that we can start all over.”
“Let her stay away. She has done that for years now.”
“Nimi, she called me. She finally reached out after all this time.” Her mother said in a whispery tone, her eyes on the floor.
A shocked gasp escaped Nimi’s lips, drawing her mother’s eyes back to her.
“She wants to come home. I can’t tell your father until I am certain we can be of one voice.”
The tears she had held at bay all the while spilled down her cheeks now with reckless abandon. “I will not speak with one voice on this matter, Mama. I will not be happy if you welcome her back to this house. I will have nothing to do with it.” She turned and picked up her plate of soup, staring at it with tears streaming down her cheeks.
Her mother came closer and touched her shoulders. “I’ll keep praying for you, Nimi.” With this, she turned away and left the kitchen.
Appetite gone, Nimi remained in the same position, her plate of soup forgotten, crying for the things that were.
Ken’s eyes fixed on the television. An international friendly match was on and he was watching, but his mind seemed to be drifting from the footballers on the screen. His mind was completely taken by thoughts of Nimi. Yes, he had taken a step with Nimi and he liked it. He felt right with what he had done. It gave him great pleasure also that she had accepted his friendship. What would happen next?
He wondered if he could move forward. He shook his head. No, he said to himself, I won’t rush. Lord, take charge. I could talk to her.
He dropped his legs from the centre table top where he had placed them and wore his flip-flop, then he went to the electric extension close to the TV and unplugged his phone. Just as he was about to unlock the screen, light flashed on the screen and the phone started vibrating. A call was coming in. Immediately he saw the caller ID, the phone dropped from his fingers to the rugged floor.
He moved back in his chair and placed a hand over his beating heart. His nightmare had called again.
The phone rang for some time and went off. He picked it up then and stared at the screen. Tenisha, you can’t defeat me, he cried out and waited for her call. The phone started ringing again. He took a deep breath and answered the phone.
“He… he… hello,” he said in a shaky tone. He cleared his throat and spoke again. “Hello.” This time he had more control over his voice.
“Ken?” the voice rose in disbelief.
“Ye… yes.” He went back to stuttering when he heard Tenisha’s voice.
“Oh, Ken.” She called softly.
He heard a sniff. He held his peace and waited.
“Why? Why are you treating me like this? I have been calling for a long time now.” She said. “You left without a word and refused to pick my call. What exactly did I do wrong?” She asked in between gulps of air.
“Tenisha,” Ken started slowly, “we were finished before I left.” He explained. “I’m sorry it was not clear to you.”
“Oh, Ken, finished you say? It wasn’t clear to me and we are not finished.” Her voice became firm.
“Tenisha…” he tried to reason with her.
“Ken, my darling, you know you are my all in all. We can’t just end things like that. We have to be together.” She switched to a sensuous tone. “How can I leave the man who owns my heart? You promised me the world, Ken. I want that world with you, and that’s why I had to get your new location. I’m presently lodging in Bliss Hotel in Opolo.” She told him.
Ken jumped up when he heard that. She was just some blocks away from him. “What?” he exclaimed in shock.
“Don’t be so surprised.” She laughed. “I have my ways.” She boasted. “I want to see you today, Ken, and I don’t want to be kept waiting. Let’s meet in ten minutes. I don’t want to make more calls just to get your exact location.”
She ended the call. Ken read in between the lines. The message was clear. Tenisha had issued a threat. He pulled up his three-quarter short and hurried to his bedroom, all the while wondering who told her where to find him. He had confided in Peter.
He shook his head as he pulled down his short for a trouser. Peter would not betray him, no not to someone like Tenisha. It must be his ex-boss who had insisted on getting details before accepting his resignation. His lips drew back in a snarl. He buckled his belt, rushed to the sitting room, and grabbed his car keys. He made a dash for his car outside.
Laye sat in front of Karibo in Bliss Taste and Bite. Accepting to go out with Karibo had boosted her bruised ego. After her confrontation with Nimi, she had stormed off to her office to stew until Karibo came to remind her of his invite. She had not thought it twice before accepting. It was better to be in the company of Karibo than to be alone thinking of Nimi, Ken and, of course, Ela.
She took a bite of her sausage roll and tried to focus on Karibo. It was better for the moment. After this time, she could go back and think about Ken and how she had to have him for herself. She would give her best to Karibo and so she flashed a very bright smile at him as he told her of how long it had taken him to ask her out on a date.
“Really, Laye, I took my time. I kept seeing the serious ‘you’ and I concluded I could never break through to you.” He told her.
Laye laughed a little, shaking her head. “It couldn’t have been so bad, Karibo. You’re exaggerating.”
Karibo raised his hands. “I’m telling you the truth. I was scared. I became quite serious because of you. I had to be on the same wavelength as you.”
Laye’s mouth formed an ‘oh’. “I would never have imagined.”
He touched her hand. “This is a major breakthrough for me.” He confessed, staring into her eyes with intense, burning eyes.
She returned his gaze with a long, hard, misty look, as if analysing him, as if seeing him in a new light. Her heart started thumping within her chest. She drew a trembling breath. Was she going to faint? She wondered. Karibo touched her cheek lightly. She released a slow, soft breath that almost sounded like a moan. Her eyes flew to his in embarrassment. She cleared her throat.
“Huh… that’s… that’s quite revealing.” She said unsteadily.
He gave her a beguiling smile. “Don’t use my secret against me.” he replied, feigning fear.
“Oh, I don’t know, I’ll think about that.” She teased, lifting one dark swooping brow at him.
“Oh, come on, Laye, don’t be like that.” He held her right wrist and opened her palm, then he ran his fingers through it.
Laye resisted for a few seconds before bursting out in laughter. She threw her head back and let laughter flow out of her like melodious tune from a piano. Karibo joined in her laughter.
“So is my secret safe?” he asked her when the laughter died down.
“You tricked me.” Laye challenged him, wiping tears from her eyes with her hankie. “You made me laugh so much now I have to use the convenience room.” She pushed away from the table and got up. “I’ll be right back.” She dropped her hankie on the table and made her way to the Ladies.
She walked away from the entertainment area down the stairs that led to the counter and offices. She moved past the counter to the left and pushed open the door that led to the female convenience room. When she was done, she looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“How is it that you’re responding to Karibo this way?” She asked her reflection. She touched her chest. “Oh, why are you beating so much for him? You should beat for Ken; Ken and not Karibo.” She said with so much intensity.
A door opened behind her and a lady stepped out of one of the rooms. Their eyes met in the mirror and Laye noticed the weird look the lady gave her as she went to the sink to wash her hands. Laye forced a smile and rushed out of the Ladies. She laughed as she made her way through the counter and up the stairs. Just at the stairs, she bumped into a couple. Her eyes went up immediately to apologize but the words stuck in her throat when she saw the man.
“Mr Ken?” She called in disbelief. Her eyes went to the lady beside him. Tall and full figured, she wore a short red gown that hung to her body and displayed all her abundant curves, leaving nothing to the imagination. Her almost white skin told the tale of a bleaching cream. Her round face was heavily made up with eyelashes that were long and thick and looked like feathers. Her lips and eyes reminded Laye of a peacock’s array of colours. Laye’s eyes went to the legs then. She stood on dangerous heels that were as tiny as a broomstick. Laye’s mouth dropped open when her eyes concluded their roaming on the lady’s face again.
The lady returned her gaze with a knowing smile. It was almost like she could read Laye’s mind. Laye closed her mouth then. The lady flipped the gold weave on she had on over her shoulders and tucked her arm around his, then she ran her fingers over his arm. Her eyes held Laye’s in an open challenge.
Laye turned away in time to see the uncomfortable look on Ken’s face. He squeezed his eyes shut in obvious frustration. Something was off, Laye thought. She couldn’t imagine Ken with a lady like the one beside him. And if she was his girlfriend, why did he look so uncomfortable and guilty? How would she even compete with such a lady?
“Mr Ken.” She called again.
“Hi, Laye.” He replied, his lips forming a plastic smile. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
Laye smiled. Ken just called her Laye. Something he had never done. Something was really up with him and the sexy doll beside him.
“I came here with a friend to grab a bite. What about you?” She asked.
“I’m… I’m here also to grab a bite. See you tomorrow then.” He said in a rush and pulled the lady forward. The movement was sudden and the lady gasped in shock, losing her footing. Ken grabbed her at the last minute and balanced her. She staggered down the stairs behind Ken.
Laye watched this in bemusement. What was going on? Nimi told her of Ken singleness, so who was the sexy doll ruffling the ever-official Mr Ken? Where was the Christian Mr Ken who spent time in his office singing hymn? Hmm… Laye thought, I’ll get to the bottom of this. I can feel the beginning of a drama.
Adrenaline rushed through her as she went back to Karibo. She would also rush him out of the restaurant. Ken must not see him too. Two can play a game.