February 24th | Ajah
He waited for the expected wave of screams to subside before speaking. “If I am trespassing, stop me mid-sentence.” He began, shoving his hands into the pair of knee – length, baggy shorts he had on. “But, can I ask about Osayu’s father? Where is he?”
This time last week, Esohe hadn’t been sure she’d hear from IK again. Or so soon at that. Not after she’d cancelled their anticipated rendezvous merely hours before it was to commence.
His call came in on Wednesday evening after a particularly unpleasant experience with monstrous traffic occasioned by stationery trucks on her route back home. The call in itself was a pleasant, welcome surprise which had an invitation attached to it. Another surprise. One she readily accepted and planned not to cancel on again. Osayu was up for any activity involving fun, ice cream and popcorn in its package; doubly prepared if his friend and classmate, Nadine, was going to be his companion.
Esohe gathered, on the way to the amusement park, that IK took his favourite niece out at least once a month which was how often his work allowed. He had called Esohe to ask if she’d like to come along with Osayu. Yes! She had responded more for herself to make up for last week than for Osayu’s treat.
The mini – rollercoaster the children were riding on swished noisily past them and she smiled at the bright, happy faces before turning to IK, relieved for the pair of dark sunglasses she had over her eyes. There could have been no mistaken the residual pain lodged in her eyes as she spoke. “I’m divorced. Four years now.”
He straightened immediately. “My bad. I didn’t mean…I didn’t see a ring and thought…”
She waved dismissively in the air. “Not to worry, IK; I don’t mind talking about it now. Perhaps a few years ago…” She sighed.
“And Osayu?” Encouraged, IK probed further. “How does he handle the situation?”
“Bless the child’s heart. He actually takes it in his stride.” She turned towards the rattling rollercoaster again. “Folarin’s ‘phone calls, his visits, presence, the works.”
“And what about you?” His tone lowered considerably.
“They were…are good days and bad ones. Like life, IK. More good ones because I can talk about something so personal with someone I know very little about.”
He laughed then. “It’s called therapy.”
She shook her head, laughing with him. “Or rather a roundabout way of asking about your own personal life.” She paused. “Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Uncle IK!” Two tiny voices screamed at the same time as the rollercoaster swooshed past again.
The adults waved at them in acknowledgement and a swift wind brushed Esohe’s short sun dress up her thighs. But for the pair of black leggings she wore underneath, her wave would have been cut short to maintain her decency.
“Not for the last six months.”
Her brows shot up. “What do you mean? She wanted to get married and move in, while your feet were still on the brakes?”
He grinned. “Along those lines among other things. It was still a relatively new relationship. Three months. We were still getting to know each other, and there were other things on my burners.”
“You were too slow for her.”
“Maybe but it’s my life too. Some things are not to be rushed. Marriage is one of them.”
“Hmm. True.” Was all Esohe said and fell silent. Sometimes she thought that way about her short-lived union with Folarin. A rushed affair. Would it have thrived for longer if they had waited nine months, one more year, after she returned to the country before taking the plunge?
The roller coaster careening to a roaring halt interrupted her melancholic train of thoughts.
“Can we go again, please?” Nadine was first off, walking unsteadily towards her uncle and Esohe.
IK swung her up and into his arms. “Yeah, right, young lady.” He held up two fingers in the air; she shut her eyes instantly. He laughed. “Let’s go for ice – cream instead.”
“Yipee!” Osayu screamed excitedly, one little arm in the air. He seemed to have managed the rollercoaster ride better than his friend.