Anjola breathe, Anjola breathe…
I was on my way to Aunty Titi’s house in Ogudu and I was scared. Since my visit to Emeka’s house and his shocking revelation to me, I had been in what I could only describe as a trance. I was so overwhelmed by the speed at which my life was changing that I had resorted to literally reminding myself to breathe. Oladunni was the only anchor left in my life, she was the only reason I was standing still…if not for her I would be on a plane to the other end of the world. My mind wandered again as it had been doing to childhood memories filled with conversations with my mother. August 2, 1995.
Joke Adekoya: Happy birthday my darling! What do you want for your birthday? Me: I want my daddy to come for my party. Joke Adekoya: But Anjola I have explained to you that your daddy can’t come? Me: Mummy why can’t he come? He doesn’t love us? Joke Adekoya: It’s not that. You know when two adults love each other, they get married and have children but sometimes they start to argue and fight and may decide they no longer want to live together so they stop being married but it doesn’t mean they don’t love their children. Me: Is that what happened, my daddy didn’t want to live with us again?
Joke Adekoya: No he didn’t want to live with me again not you. He loves you. Me: So if he loves me why can’t he come for my birthday? All my friends are going to be there and their daddies will bring them. Why can’t my own daddy come too? Joke: When you get older I will explain it better please. Me: I am a big girl! I am ten years old today mummy. Joke Adekoya: I know you’re a big girl but you’re not big enough to understand ok? Me: Ok. So will Afolabi leave us too? Joke Adekoya: (Chuckles) No my dear, your brother will not leave us. Don’t. August 2, 2000.
Joke Adekoya: Happy birthday my beautiful princess! Have you seen your birthday present? Me: Yes mum. I like the wristwatch, it’s very nice. Joke Adekoya: Good. So what do you want to do today? I can’t believe you’re 15 already! You’re all grown up. Soon you will go off to the university and I would be home alone. Me: Don’t worry mum. I won’t be like Afolabi; I will come home from school every weekend to see you. Joke Adekoya: That’s what you will say now o. When you get to school you will become a hot babe on campus and forget about your mum. Me: I won’t. Mummy I worry about you. You will be all by yourself when I go to school.
Joke Adekoya: Don’t worry. I will be fine Me: Mummy why didn’t you ever remarry? Joke Adekoya: My dear, everyone chooses their path in life. This is the path I have chosen and I am prepared for it. Me: So why did you and my father get a divorce? Can’t you tell us something about him…anything! Joke Adekoya: Anjola! Why do you keep doing this every year on your birthday? When you are… Me: Yes when I am older you will tell me! I wonder what is so horrible that you can’t tell me. I am fifteen today, what can’t I understand? Did you snatch someone’s husband? Or did he catch you with another man? Joke Adekoya: Watch your tongue young lady! Don’t talk to me like that! Me: Ok I will never bring it up again, but just know that you are not helping me and Afolabi by hiding whatever it is you are hiding. Our father is a part of who we are and you have no right to keep the truth away from us! Joke Adekoya: Ok Anjola. I agree with you…when you turn eighteen I will tell you everything. I promise. Me: Tell me now mummy please.
Joke Adekoya: I will tell you when you turn eighteen I promise. Unfortunately, she never lived to see my eighteenth birthday shortly after my fifteenth birthday she was diagnosed with cancer and passed on two years later. I remember after she passed on, Afolabi and I searched through all her belongings trying to find a clue as to who our father really was…a marriage certificate, divorce papers, pictures but we found nothing. Aunty Titi, her sister and our closest family member told us the same things our mother had: his name and nothing more. According to them we were better off not knowing. When I got to Aunty Titi’s house, she was waiting for me by the gate. Me: Good Afternoon Ma. Aunty Titi: Welcome my dear. Your uncle has gone to his friend’s house; we need to talk in private. Me: Aunty, what is this about?
I asked her when we got into her living room. She sat with her chin in her hands for a few minutes and then she stood up and started pacing back and forth. Aunty Titi: Anjolaoluwa, I know all you are going through and this may seem like bad timing. I promised your mother I would protect you from this but I see you making the same mistakes she did, I would be doing you a great injustice to keep quiet about it. Me: What is it you need to tell me? Aunty Titi: The truth about your father. Me: I know the truth and that’s why I am here. I went on to relay exactly what Emeka had told me when I went to see him.
*Three Days Earlier*
Emeka: Anjola please can we go inside? This is not a good place to tell you this. Me: I am not going inside your house. Emeka: You want to sit down for this Anjola.
I eventually gave in and went in.
Emeka: A few years ago when I was still living in America, one of my friends organized a Naija themed party. We were all home sick, it was during the holidays and some of us couldn’t come home. It was Nigerian food, music and all so we could have a feel of home. We invited as many Nigerians as we could find. At the party, I met a lady who looked exactly like you. It was so ridiculous that I just had to walk up to her and tell her I knew her “twin”. You know how they always say everyone has a twin. We got talking and she told me her name was Atinuke Akin-Badmus. Of course, you know who her father is right? I nodded. Who didn’t know Chief Akin-Badmus? He was a business mogul and the owner of Pegasus Oil- one of the largest indigenous oil and gas companies in Nigeria where Emeka also currently worked.
Emeka: She reminded me so much of you and so we became friends. We started hanging out together as friends. She was engaged to be married so it was just a platonic friendship. On the day of her pre-wedding dinner, she introduced me to her father. We really hit it off that night we spent some time talking about the Nigerian oil and gas industry; he found some of my experiences on my job at the time quite fascinating. A few days after the wedding, I got a call from Atinuke she told me her father had requested to see me. I went to see him the next day and he offered me a job. He wanted me to run his liaison office there in Texas where I was based at the time. He said he wasn’t getting any younger and couldn’t really travel as much as he used to. It was a wonderful offer and I couldn’t resist so I resigned from my job and went to work for him.
One day I got a mail addressed to him, it was from a bank and I thought it had something to do with the company so I opened it. It was a bank statement of what looked like a trust fund and some legal documents detailing the terms and conditions of the trust fund. A new name had been added hence the need to send new documents. The names on the statement were very surprising to me, so on his next trip to Texas I asked him about it and that was how I found out. Me: Found out what? What names were on the trust fund? Emeka ignored my question.
Emeka: Anjola, Chief Akin Badmus is your father! Me: What??? Are you sure of what you are saying? Emeka: The names on the trust fund document were yours and your brother’s. Apparently, your brother and his wife had just had a baby girl at the time and her name was included in the document that’s why it was sent by the bank. Me: Do you know the implications of what you are saying? Emeka: Yes. Your father has known where you were this whole time. I tried to get him to tell me what happened between him and your mother and why he had been in the shadows all your life. He told me he had planned to initiate contact with you but he found out something that put him off. Me: What did he find out? Emeka: That you were engaged to be married to an Ayo-Kessington. Me: So?
Emeka: There is a long standing feud between your father’s family and TK’s family. He was adamant that if you went ahead with the wedding he would cut you off. He said there was a lot about the family you didn’t know and unfortunately he couldn’t warn you. That was why I came and tried to stop you from marrying TK but you did the noble thing and went ahead with the wedding. After your marriage to TK, I discovered your father had gone ahead with his plans of disinheriting you because you had become a part of the Ayo-Kensington family. I was very inquisitive as to what could be so terrible that he would disinherit you simply because you had married TK. I began digging deeper into who TK was and I uncovered some dirt on him.
His parents have done some questionable things to preserve their money and power. Your husband hasn’t been any better himself from cases of fraud in his investment firm, to a failed marriage and a very questionable lifestyle, I was convinced you deserved better plus I didn’t want you to lose the chance of a relationship with your father and the fortune he had preserved for you all because of a man who wasn’t worth it! When I was asked by Chief Badmus to come and head the Operations department of Pegasus Oil here in Nigeria, I saw it as an opportunity to help you live the life you deserve. I knew I couldn’t just spring a father on you so I decided to win your confidence, try to get you to start opening up to me and then I could eventually explain it all to you and help you make a decision.
Ronke was the decoy so your defenses wouldn’t be up and you wouldn’t think I was trying to break your home or lure you back to me. You began to confide in me and I realized from our interactions that you weren’t very happy in your marriage. You were insecure and constantly scheming you were no longer the Anjola I knew, and the change wasn’t for the better. I became more convinced that I had to rescue you. However, things didn’t go the way I had planned. I had the perfect plan but what I didn’t plan for was the fact that I would realize that I was still in love with you. That I am still in love with you and that I would always be in love with you. You have to decide now Anjola what you want and I promise you I would do my best to help you get it. Do you want your husband back or do you want a relationship with your father? It’s time to choose again Angel. What was Emeka talking about? Choose what? My mind was already made up!
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