“What do you mean?” Simi asked, confusion written all over her face.
The room was quiet; the boy looked down, embarrassed. The man shuffled in his seat. Her mother spoke.
“When you were 3 years old, your father left us for his secretary. He left us in a 2-bedroom apartment and gave us the young start-up company my father had given him the funds to start.” She croaked as a tear slipped down her face.
“He said he didn’t want us to starve but he had to leave, that he didn’t love me anymore. The annual revenue that company generated could barely pay your school fees and feed us at the same time. But I put it to work and God rewarded my efforts.”
“Bunmi, I beg you. I’m very sorry.” The man begged, slowly getting down on his knees.
The older lady looked unimpressed.
“What do you want? What do you want from me? Kayode! What do you want?!”
Simi didn’t know what to feel, her emotions were mashed up in an inconsistent sequence of hurt, betrayal, anger and confusion. She wasn’t even aware that the tears had begun to stream down her face. She wondered how everything could change in the space of a couple of days. Life had been good; she had her mom to provide all her needs and a large majority of her wants. She had her boyfriend who was desirable by all the standards she could dream of, a loyal best friend, good grades and everything else she considered important. She even had a dog, if that could count for anything. She had never missed her father, she’d only ever felt his absence in primary school during PTA meetings where some other kids’ had both parents present. And then, there he was, kneeling in front of her irate mother, with a boy she was sure was her step brother.
“Simisola, help me talk to you mother. I know I’ve offended the two of you but please forgive me.” Her father said, his voice shaky with pain and regret.
“Please don’t get her involved in this! We both have the same opinion of you! No normal person would be so mean and wicked. Now you have the guts to step into MY house and beg? Something must be wrong with you.”
Simi couldn’t take it any longer. She got up from the chair and headed for the stairs. Ignoring the pleas and insults flying behind her, she made her way to her room, past Izzy, and locked the door. Her phone began ringing at that very moment but she ignored it. She lay on her bed and began crying. The phone kept ringing in her pocket until she wearily retrieved and answered without checking who it was.
“Hello?” She sniffed.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing!?” A voice bellowed into the phone.
“Who is this?” She inquired feeling stupid for not checking.
“Oh, so my number gets deleted that quickly shey? I see. You’re a very silly girl and I’m not sure that what is wrong with you is of this world.”
“Andy, look, I didn’t mean for-” She began
“Mean for what?! I don’t know what you want. I do everything for you, everything you ask. I even dropped some friends for you, because you didn’t like them. Then you said you wanted to end things with me, because of what happened at Palms? I admit I made a mistake but I apologized.”
He was angry, very angry. Simi cringed at his words.
“Don’t please me! You came to me and we had sex! Who on earth in our age group doesn’t have sex?! You left my house crying and I was so confused, next thing, you’re breaking up with me. You are very crazy!”
“Don’t insult me!” Simi screamed back into the phone, hurt by his words “Do not even insult me! I don’t want to see you again!”
“Neither do I! Who wants a crazy bitch as a girlfriend? You can take yourself and that low-life nigger that you met at Palms, and go have a dirty nonsense life in Enugu for all I care! Do you have any idea how many girls I’ve turned down this year alone?! And you fall for the first guy that comes running along. Tell me, have you shagged him yet?”
Simi blazed with anger and hurt. It was more than she could bear and she cut the call. She tossed the phone aside and cried. Andy was right; she’d fallen for the first guy that came running along. He hadn’t even come along, she’d gone to meet him and she’d made a critical decision because of him. She knew she could have put up with Andy’s misbehaviour for so much longer. But Andy was the least of her problems at the moment. At the peak of her pain, he’d shattered her with mean words and left her spiralling towards depression but he still wasn’t the major reason she was so hurt and wounded. Her father was. Years of repressed feelings and yearning for her father came rushing back to her. His presence reminded her how much she wanted a father, how she had longed for him to drop her off or pick her up from school. She always wanted to have an experience of a father intimidating a boyfriend, or waking her up to go to church, things which her mother couldn’t do for her.
And then he appeared, right in her living room. Her father had come back, but things could never be the same. He couldn’t possibly make up for the years lost. She and her mother were a team that had learned to survive on their own, relying on each other for strength in their lonely days. Simi wondered if her mother was going to accept him. A small part of her wanted her to. She wanted a father. She needed a father.
The tears continued to flow freely as she drifted into sleep. Her sleep was filled with nightmares. Andy appeared many times, attacking her with a knife, poisoning her. Her dad came in with strange creatures and kidnapped her. She continued to dream those terrible things until she was awoken by a gentle tapping on her back. Her mother sat on the bed with bags under her red eyes. She’d been crying.
“Simisola, my love. Wake up.”
“I’m awake mom.” Simi replied, stretching weakly on the bed. She looked at the door and realised her mom had used a spare key.
“My dear, I don’t even know what to say to you, or how to explain all of this madness.”
“You don’t have to, I understand fully well what’s going on. I am not a child.”
“I know you’re not but I still owe it to you to explain.”
“Don’t bother yourself mom, you’re just as hurt as I am, even more. This is a man you loved.”
The older lady paused for a moment and then spoke calmly.
“What?” Simi inquired.
“I still love him.”
The explosion of anger came to her as a shock, but Simi found herself overcome with rage.
“You can’t be serious. You must be joking.” She sat up.
“Simisola,you can’t understand because I don’t understand too.”
“Mom, you can’t possibly accept him back just like that. After how many years?!”
“I know it looks foolish of me, but that’s how things are at this moment. I sent him away and told him I’ll get in touch with him when I’m ready. But after thinking about it, I realised that I still love him, and I never really hated him.”
Simi felt like slapping her mother. She felt angry that her mother would actually consider accepting her father back so easily. She wanted a father, but not like that. She wanted him to work for their forgiveness, not to get it on a platter of gold.
“Simisola, the real reason I came is to ask you for something. My happiness depends on this. We’re together in this house and I don’t want to decide this alone.”
“Anything for you mom.”
“I’ll do whatever you decide on this. Please consider me.”
Simi was starting to get impatient.
“Simisola, Can your father and step-brother move in tomorrow?”
“What do you mean?” Simi asked, confusion written all over her face.