I got in my car and drove away from the hospital. Away from Sonia and her daughter; away from Mrs Leigh who turned out to be a doctor and all the secrets. I just drove and kept going.
An hour later, I realised I was at Tina’s bus stop. I pulled over and placed a call to her. She answered sweetly not knowing it was me. When I introduced myself, she hissed and I guessed she was going to terminate the call.
I spoke quickly, urging her that it was imperative we saw. She finally agreed to come out and see me.
She came with two goons (sorry guys), I called them goons because they were both mean looking and I did not for a second believe that they were related.
‘I was in the neighborhood and thought to say hi.’ I flashed my best smile at her.
She folded her hands across her chest. Her face, a visage of darkness. She was having none of my bull and it was clear.
I cut to the chase and spoke in a contrite manner. I still didn’t understand why I was there anyways, still, ‘look, I’ve made mistakes in my life. Choices that are coming back to haunt me now. I don’t know why I came here, but since I’m here, can you please find it in your heart to forgive me?’
She hissed. ‘You mean you came here to ask for forgiveness? Wait, did you consult someone who told you I’m the one behind your problems? If you did, well sorry, I’m not, if you didn’t, goodnight.’ She turned and started leaving.
I grabbed her arm and instantly one of her goons reacted and started coming for me. ‘Please, listen to me.’
She looked into my eyes for a few seconds, saw my desperation and she made a sign. The goon fell back.
‘What do you want?’ Her hands were still folded over her chest.
‘Forgiveness. I wronged you badly, and though I can’t go back in time to undo what I did, I would very much appreciate it if you can forgive me.’
‘You do realise you are a very selfish person?’
I nodded and swallowed. ‘Yes.’
‘And all you want is forgiveness?’
‘Yes ma’m, nothing more.’
She arched her eyebrow. ‘Men, you guys just think you can do and undo…’ she bit her lip and regarded me. Then she came forward and hugged me. ‘Go. And sin no more.’ She whispered in my ear. Then she broke off the embrace, ‘I forgave you after wrecking your car. Now, I need to get back.’
She turned and left, the goons eyed me, probably due to the fact that they had wanted to bash my face in. I got in my car and drove away. I had one more stop before going home.
She was home, thankfully. And upon seeing me, she slammed the door in my face. I smiled. I deserved that. I knocked again and after she realised I was not going anywhere, she opened the door and said ‘what! We do not have any business together, so why don’t you scurry away?’
Imole had always had a smart mouth, and seeing her indignant at me, I just smiled. ‘I want to tell you a story, please indulge me.’
She hissed, folded her hands and stood in the doorway. She wasn’t letting me in her apartment for any reason. So I launched into it and told her the story. Everything.
When I was done, she had a new look on her face, one of compassion. ‘You went through all that? And this Kemi girl, do you love her?’
It was the first time I unloaded my heart, and Imole’s question jarred me into realisation. I did love Kemi, I had just been too afraid to admit it.
I shrugged. ‘I’ll find out eventually I guess, I will look her in the eyes again soon.’
She smiled. ‘Okay, go after her, you probably love her more now. You have my blessing.’
I felt like jumping up and hugging her, but I had fresh memories of Mrs Leigh’s slap. ‘There’s one more thing…’ I brought out the ring I had bought back then. ‘I bought this for you, I want you to have it. A symbol of our friendship.’
She eyed the ring as it glittered in the early evening darkness. And looked at me queerly. ‘Why don’t you give her the ring?’
‘Because for years, this was the only attachment I had to you. Everytime I felt blue, I brought it out and thought of you. If I give it to another, I will just be doing her a huge disservice. You are the ring.’
She sighed, observed the ring in my hand and closed her eyes. She reopened them, and took the ring, she wore it on the third finger of her right hand, the ring fit perfectly.
‘I’ll take it, for old times sake, now, is there any more drama you want to unleash? Or is that it?’ She started swinging her door.
‘That’s all. Thank you for accepting the ring, and for forgiving me.’
‘You’ve always been a fool in these things, and I had thought I would make you my fool and school you. That is no longer possible. Have a good life.’ She didn’t wait for me to respond before shutting her door in my face again.
I smiled, shook my head ruefully and started for my car. That Saturday was one that defined my personality, and I knew I was no longer a pawn in the game of the gods, I had been delivered.
As I entered my car and fired up the ignition, I remembered Kemi, her wonderful smile and the dreamy city of Akure. I knew what I had to do, I engaged the gear and pulled away from Imole’s house.