Author’s Note: So it seems I’m on a roll. Busy season is just winding down. I wrote this last night so don’t expect perfection (I feel like I’m telling myself that. I’m too much of a perfectionist). By the way, I was listening to Let it go by James Bay when this story came to me. James Bay is bae. Anyway, enjoy this little glimpse into Tayo’s life.
We hadn’t planned to have a birthday party for Biodun, but Seun being well, Seun had insisted. You’d think that four years after leaving Babcock and she’d have the good sense to not care about keeping up appearances.
I’d always thought she cared a little too much about what people thought. I watched her waddle around the house bossing the caterers and servers around and wondered what she would do if we had an army of staff at her disposal. She was yet to shed the baby fat and this made me wonder if she ever would. Or she would just add layers of fat to the existing one as the years went on.
I shook away the thought as my princess trudged into the room. She had started walking and just in time for her first birthday.
“Da- da” she said struggling with the words.
“Yes baby” I cooed, scooping her into my arms.
I turned into goo whenever she walked into the room. Absolute goo. And there was no shame.
Who would have thought I’d turn out to be kickass at this fatherhood thing?
I leaned into Biodun, blowing bubbles against her cheek. She smelled like Nycil baby powder and her mother’s perfume.
“Seun you used your perfume on her again. You know she’s going to start itching later” I complained to Seun.
“So I should leave her to smell Abi?” Seun retorted as she walked past me with another tray of food, probably to go serve the guests waiting in the canopy downstairs.
Our small two-bedroom apartment in Magodo was already filled with friends and well wishers. A little play corner had been set aside for the toddlers. Thanks to Wunmi, Seun’s sister.
Two girls and a guy came in and I squinted trying to figure out who they were.
“Tayo!” One of the girls shrieked leaping into my arms.
“Kemster” I cried in turn, wrapping my old friend in a bear hug. She was tiny compared to me. At five feet two, she barely reached my chest. “You came. Wow” I continued.
I could feel Seun’ s eyes on us but I ignored her. Kemster and I had been Gs since 2006 when a friend tried to hook us up and we realized it felt like incest. Here we were nine years later, still absolute Gs. I hadn’t seen her since Biodun. Seun seemed intent on cutting me off any female friends. I mean ANY.
“Look at you Kemster. Your hotness just quadrupled since the last time we saw” I joked.
She laughed. “Ibitayo Oreoluwa Caulcrick, don’t even start. Oh meet my friend Emeka. He went to KC too.”
Yeah. That’s Kemster. She thinks I know anyone who went to KC or Babcock regardless of their set.
Turns out I did know this one.
“Floreat” We said in unison.
“Emeka Eze” I hailed.
“Tayo Caulcrick! How far now?” He responded.
“Oh boy I dey o” I replied.
We exchanged the usual side hug with a single pat on the back and ended the greeting with a handshake.
“How did you know about today, though?” I asked Kemi sheepishly.
I hadn’t invited her to Biodun’s birthday shindig. I don’t know why. I’d been embarrassed since the whole thing. Like I failed her or something.
She shrugged. “I saw it on Fisayo’s BBM.” She said.
I forgot she was friends with my brother too.
Seun made an appearance soon enough. She just walked up to me to mention something about her aunt asking for me downstairs.
“Umm Kemi you remember Seun right?” I said by way of introduction. “Seun I’m sure you remember Kemi and that’s Emeka”
Kemi had always been terrible at hiding her feelings. Right now her dislike for Seun was plastered across her face like a billboard on the third mainland bridge.
Well on Seun’s part there was no love lost. I felt like a piece of stake in a tug-o-war between two dogs. And I knew in whose stomach I’d rather be in.
“Let’s go see your Aunty!” I said to Seun quickly leading her away. “It’s good to see you Kemster and you too Emeka”
“Tension much” I heard Emeka mutter to Kemi.
An hour later after I ensured Seun was busy changing Biodun into her third outfit for the evening, I walked towards Kemster. She was standing alone staring at the few pictures on our wall.
“Nice home you have here,” she said eyeing our tastefully furnished apartment.
“Well what can I say? My father-in-law has strong ties in real estate” I said jocularly.
I knew it was a bad joke when Kemi looked away.
“Biodun is beautiful by the way” she said softly. “She looks exactly like you. Thank God. You couldn’t have denied it even if you tried”
Yeah. Like the thought had ever crossed my mind to deny my child. My innate sense of responsibility was the reason why I was married at 24 years and 3 months old and a father three months later.
“How’s your friend?” I asked Kemi.
“Which friend?” She asked.
“You know the one I’m talking about!” I said glancing around and hoping Seun’s beady-eyed cousins didn’t report back to her.
Kemi sighed deeply. “She’s fine. She says you should stop emailing her”
“Well, I can’t help it” I cried and recognizing my mistake I quickly lowered my voice. “She blocked me on every bloody social media platform. Even Tagged”
Kemi bit her lip so I knew she was trying not to laugh at my dilemma.
“Well you’re married now. You can’t expect her to want to keep in touch” she said.
Bloody damn!!! I wanted to swear so bad. I wanted to kick the wall and tear out Seun’s hair and my hair. Not a day went by that I didn’t regret that rainy night were I had sex with her.
I’d been dating Mobola Kemi’s friend for about two years. Mobola was amazing. I use amazing because she was indescribably beautiful, kind, poised, gentle and brilliant. I was going to marry her. She was a year older than I was but I hadn’t cared. But of course, the enemies of progress wouldn’t let us be. This time they came in the form of my ex, Seun. Seun and I had dated for two years in Babcock Uni. I had been her first everything. Then she cheated on me with my then best friend Osita and we broke up. She kept pleading for me to take her back but the damage was irreparable.
One night when Mobola was in Abeokuta visiting relatives, Seun came over. One thing led to another and we had sex. I didn’t see her till another six months. By then she was pregnant and showing and very insistent that I marry her. Of course, her father’s shotgun to my head was also a strong motivation to do the right thing.
“Kemi, just…tell her I say hi okay?” I said brokenly.
“Okay” Kemi said. She looked me in the eye, a feat for her because she had to look way up. “How are the women in your life?”
I paused and darted a glance at a photograph of Biodun and I.
“I only have one woman in my life,” I said succinctly. “Biodun is the best thing to ever happen to me” I added speaking of my daughter.
“And her?” Kemi asked tilting her head towards Seun.
I scoffed and looked away.
“Tayo, the sooner you come to terms with your marriage the better for your family. No matter how she strong-armed you into this marriage I believe she loves you deep down” Kemi said.
Yeah right. I thought to myself. I guess I made my bed.