“Are you sure she didn’t give you any hint? Nothing in the way she spoke to you?” I asked, biting my lips nervously.
“Nothing. But it can’t be bad news right? Or why else would she have insisted on you visiting?” Omololu shrugged, his eyes fixed on the road.
I sighed, concerned about his Mum’s motive. Her invitation was unexpected, especially since my conversation with her on my birthday last week was not eventful. She had only wished me a happy birthday and just when I had resolved it to her just being nice, I got a call from Omololu asking if I was up for a visit to his parents. They wanted to meet me, his mum especially.
“Maybe she will give me a blank cheque to leave you alone,”
“Too many movies,” He chuckled, rolling his eyes. “Just calm down babe, I told you I called Pastor Adeoti and he said he had a conversation with them.”
“I know, but he doesn’t know what they decided right? So, who’s to say this trip will turn out positive?” I shrugged.
“Do you honestly think they would want us in Akure, just to say No? That could have been easily said on the phone now,” He reasoned.
“Maybe she wants to say it to my face,” I insisted. “Just to make sure I get the message.”
“My parents are not that dramatic,” Omololu said laughing.
“Yeah, just like they don’t hold any bias right?” I muttered, slightly amused.
“Okay, I walked into that,” He laughed. “But I assure you, everything would be fine.”
I nodded, and relaxed a bit. I knew one way or another, I would handle whatever was coming. I sat back, recalling my conversation with my parents. I had informed them about the trip to Akure, only because I wanted to avoid the kind of scolding that followed my last trip. My mum had fired questions after questions, one of which I had no satisfactory answer. She wanted to know why they wanted to meet me, what I was wearing, and if I think they were finally on board with our relationship.
“Where did you go off to?” Omololu asked tapping me lightly.
“Just reminiscing about the conversation I had with my parents,” I shrugged. I had told him about it especially my Mum’s top two key points; dress and carry yourself well to make a good impression; and do not allow yourself to be disrespected just so you can marry their son.
“Did I mention that I love your mum?” He grinned.
“Yes, and she loves you too,” I assured him, patting his thigh. “She just loves me more.”
“We are here,” Omololu said as he parked the car in front of a gated building. “This is home.”
“Okay,” I sighed, dreading yet excited about the possibilities that lies at the other side of the gate. “I guess it’s game time,” I said, opening the car door.
We walked hand in hand to the gate, Omololu’s hand squeezing mine in assurance as he rang the doorbell with the other.
“How much do you think I should write on that blank cheque?” I whispered, earning an eye roll from him. “No answer? I guess I will decide then,” I winked, just as the gate was opened, surprisingly by his mum.
I had seen her pictures, so I immediately recognized her. “Good day ma,” I greeted, kneeling slightly.
“Ha, Teniola, welcome to our home,” She said with a broad smile, her disposition warm. She nodded at Omololu, acknowledging his greetings, before returning her attention to me. “Get up, get up, you are welcome.”
Okay, this is off to a good start, I thought, giving her a polite smile. Maybe I won’t be getting a blank cheque after all.
“They are here o,” She called out as she led us into the living room. The living room setup was a beautiful balance of the old and the new. The flat-screened TV hung on the wall, in an obvious yet beautiful contrast to the antique stereo system on the mid-sized shelf.
“Good afternoon sir,” Omololu and I greeted in unison, as we walked toward his father. He was seated on the only recliner in the room, his back to the array of pictures that was certain to give me a glimpse of the family’s history.
“Ha, e kaabo, welcome,” He responded, sitting up. His eyeglasses were placed on the bridge of his nose, immediately reminding me of university professors. I smiled politely at him, as I took the seat he had pointed to. The pictures of him I have seen had done him no justice. He is a handsome man, but what stood out the most was the resemblance between him and Omololu. Perhaps, having them together in a room made it more obvious.
“The resemblance huh?” He asked, chuckling. “You are an expressive one, my dear. Your face is easy to read.”
“Oh,” I muttered, unsure how to respond to his comment.
“Lucky you Son,” He continued facing Omololu. “At least you will know exactly when you’ve offended her. Unlike me, I’m still yet to figure out your mother’s poker face.”
“Ha, Daddy, I thought you said you’ve given up on that,” Omololu said laughing.
“I heard that,” His mum said, her arms akimbo, feigning anger.
“Child’s talk my love,” He said, waving Omololu off as if to dismiss him. “You know I can’t give up on you, even if I tried.”
“Smooth Dad, very smooth,” Omololu said, laughing.
“Where did you think you got your smoothness from?” He snickered before facing me. “Just so you know my dear, his charmingly good looks is not the only thing he got from me.” He winked.
I laughed, truly relaxing for the first time since I got there. I sat watching them go at each other, laughing and having fun. His parents are friends, just like mine. Their friendly banter reminded me of my family.
“Don’t mind my parents, they are always like this,” Omololu whispered as he sat next to me.
“It’s fun to watch,” I grinned, still watching them.
“And about the resemblance, my dad’s side of the family always brag about how strong their genes are,” He explained.
“Oh, it’s there so no woman can give us a child that is not ours,” His father said, joining the conversation. “Our men have always looked alike. Just wait until you meet his cousins.”
“Looks like daughters are exempted sir,” I smiled. “Omolola doesn’t look like you at all.”
“Very correct,” He sighed dramatically. “We, the Williams men have never been able to control our women, my dear,” He whispered conspiratorially, his eyes twinkling. “They do what they like, and that includes who they look like.”
“Okay, let’s eat now okay?” Omololu’s mum called out from the dining area.
“Thank you for the meal ma, it was delicious,” I said as I washed the plates.
She had insisted it wasn’t necessary, but I just couldn’t sit while she cleaned. My mum would have a fit if I did that.
“You are welcome,” She smiled. “Omolola told me it was your favorite meal, so I made it in your honour.”
“Oh,” I simply said taken aback by her statement. I was confused at the sudden change, and even though the welcome and treatment I have received since I got to their home felt like I had been accepted, I was still curious about the reason for the turnaround.
“You know she wanted to be here so badly. Omolola, I mean, but her school had resumed and not even her begging bulged me,” She said breaking the suddenly awkward silence in the kitchen.
I nodded and smiled politely, yet said nothing. I wanted to ask her what was going on, but I didn’t. Where is Omololu when I need him, I thought, washing more quickly than before.
“You are confused, aren’t you?” She suddenly asked, her voice soft. I paused, my hands went still, just holding a plate and sponge. Did she read my mind?
“You are wondering about the sudden turnaround huh?” She asked again, but in a way that suggested she wasn’t expecting an answer.
“Come sit,” She said patting the kitchen stool next to her. I rinsed my hands quickly and took the seat. I was eager to finally have my answer.
“When Pastor Adeoti came to speak to us, I admit I was a little hurt that Omololu had involved him. I wanted to blame you, but if I’m being honest, I knew better. I know that my son is not one to give up. Pastor Adeoti asked us two questions. He asked if we wanted Omololu to marry the right girl and be happy and if we trust that the son we raised is smart enough to choose right.”
I sat quietly twiddling my fingers. What was there to say? I thought. Pastor Adeoti really came through with the thought-provoking questions.
“Those questions gave me a lot to think about, Teniola,” She continued, smiling sadly at me. “You see, my husband didn’t care where you were from, but he kept quiet because he knew how emotional I get about the events surrounding my father’s death. But when I started to think about Pastor's questions, I realized I never once ask Omololu to tell me about you and why you are so special. So, a day after your birthday, I called him and asked.”
“Do you know what he said?” She asked.
I shook my head in response. I was completely blindsided by this. So, that guy knew the purpose of our visit huh, I thought, amused at how well he had played the role of the ignorant son.
“He said ‘Mummy, she is my best friend. She is the first person I want to tell when anything happens in my life. I trust her with my life. She is smart, confident and she loves herself. And when she laughs mum, my world is alright.’ When I heard that, I knew I had been a fool. How could I not have seen that my son had found the very thing I prayed for; a woman who would be both his best friend and lover? Just because I was blinded by something that happened way before either one of you was born?”
“Erhmm…” I stuttered. My eyes were misty thinking of Omololu's words. I better make him write custom-made vows for our wedding, I thought. I knew I was getting ahead of myself, but if our tear-stained eyes were any indication, our mother/daughter-in-law conversation was heading in the right direction.
“I am so sorry Teniola,” She said, taking my hands in hers. “I realized how wrong I have been and I will like us to start on a fresh page.”
I nodded, grateful for her candor, “Thank you.”
“As far as I’m concerned, you are a part of my family now,” she added, pulling me into a hug.
“I agree,” I heard Omololu’s dad say from the kitchen door. He stood there, Omololu beside him, both grinning. “Tell your parents to give us a date and we will be there.”
“Daddy!” Omololu exclaimed. “Would you wait and let me propose first?” He huffed.
“Get on it then and stop dilly-dallying,” He scoffed and walked back to the living room.
“In my own time dad,” He responded, winking at me.
“You already knew about this,” I accused, getting up and walking towards him. “And you didn’t tell me,”
“What will be the fun in that?” He grinned. “The conversation with my mum wouldn’t be so organic if you were prepared for it.”
That doesn’t even make sense, I thought scoffing. “I hate you,” I whispered to him.
“I love you too,” He responded loudly, laughing, as he pulled me into a hug.