13 missed calls from Sunkanmi and 4 text messages:
SUNKANMI: I’m so sorry Simi, pls answer your phone.
SUNKANMI: Simi please we need to talk.
SUNKANMI: I love you very much Simi :*
SUNKANMI: Your silence is driving me nuts. Pls talk to me.
Earlier in the day:
Sunkanmi is waiting for me downstairs to take me to his parents’ house. I can hear him gisting with my mum.
Yesterday we spent Christmas as usual- We woke up very early to start cooking; we made efo riro and pounded yam, fried rice and jollof rice, moi- moi salad, and turkey.. By noon we were all exhausted. Some relatives and family friends came over and we had lots of leftovers to last us for a week. I don’t know why my mum insists on this ritual every year.
“Wow Simi…you didn’t have to buy a hamper…thanks.” Sunkanmi says referring to the hamper I’m holding. My mum suggested I buy a Christmas hamper for Sunkanmi’s parents.
“It’s no biggie, I can’t just go to to see your parents house empty handed…bye mum.”
“Byeeee, my regards to your parents Sunkanmi…drive safely.”
“What if your parents don’t like me?”
“They will Simi, in fact my mum loves you already.” he replies not taking his eyes off the road.
I’m very nervous about meeting his parents because of the experience I had with Obinna’s parents; which wasn’t very pleasant. His parents did not hide the fact that they weren’t pleased that I was Yoruba. They spoke Igbo over my head and I felt ignored. I’m relieved that at least tribe wouldn’t be in the way with Sunkanmi’s parents but I’ve heard stories too. I heard of a guy who broke up his engagement with his girlfriend after she met his family because she couldn’t speak Yoruba.
I spoke to Susan the night before and she assured me they’ll like me. “You are a lovely person Simi, your head shouldn’t swell sha and I’m not just saying it because you are my friend. If I had a brother, trust me, I would want him to marry you.”
“This is my secondary school.” Sunkanmi says pointing to a cluster of storey buildings made with bricks, bringing me out of my reverie.
“You are an ajebutter sha; see how massive the school is. You should see the government girls’ secondary school I went to.”
For some reason, Sunkanmi seems a bit preoccupied; he’s not his usual chatty self. Maybe he’s also nervous about introducing me to his parents.
“Thanks again for the Christmas present. I looooove it.”
“You are welcome babe, I love mine too.” He gave me a gift bag when he came to pick me up. Inside it was a pair of red stilettos, which fit perfectly and a silk scarf. I got him a lilac shirt with white stripes and cufflinks.
We arrive at their house a few minutes after 1pm. A bungalow located in a plush estate; in front is well trimmed yellow bushes and two cars parked in the driveway. Sunkanmi’s mum comes out of the door. She’s a petite woman with grey hair and she’s wearing a red kaftan.
“Simisola my dear, welcome.”
“Good afternoon ma.” I greet on two knees.
“Stand up stand up. Good afternoon my dear, how are you” She says and pulls me into a hug. She releases me and says “it’s good to finally meet you Simisola…Sunkanmi has told us so much about you.”
“Thank you ma.” I reply shyly with a smile.
“Really mum? What have I been telling you? ” he says jokingly.
“Simi this, Simi that.” She teased back and then whispers to me: “My son is crazy about you.”
As soon as we enter the house, a little boy comes running towards Sunkanmi and jumps on him.
“Hey little man”
Sunkanmi lifts him up, puts him across his shoulder and spins around.
“Again! again! again!” he shouts asking Sunkanmi to pick him up again for a spin.
“Nah…I don’t want to be dizzy…remember what happened last time.”
He must be Joshua. I had seen some pictures of him on Sunkanmi’s phone. Sunkanmi told me he was a relative and he lived with his parents because his mum didn’t want him. I remember asking what type of mother didn’t want her son and commending his parents for being so nice to take care of him.
“Have you said hello to auntie?” Sunkanmi scolded.
“Good afternoon ma.”
“Hello Joshua, how are you? Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas.” He says timidly and says to Sunkanmi in an intended whisper: “Is this auntie Sims?”
“Yep she is!”
Just then Sunkanmi’s father comes into the sitting room and I kneel to greet him. He has the same features as Sunkanmi- same face, same nose, dimples and smile. At least, I have an idea of how Sunkanmi would look in his 60s.
“My dear how are you? And how are your parents?”
“I’m fine thank you sir and my parents are fine too.”
We spend the afternoon looking at old family albums of Sunkanmi’s childhood in Ilorin, birthdays, his teenage years, and graduation pictures from Unilag. His mum sits next to me the entire time narrating stories behind some of the pictures while Sunkanmi and Joshua are busy playing a game.
The maid announces food is ready and we head to the table. The meal is ofada rice and sauce, my favourite meal and I wonder if it is a coincidence.
“Is that enough for you dear?” Sunkanmi’s mum asks pointing to the rice I just dished on my plate.
“Yes ma, it is.”
“Abi are you watching your weight?” Sunkanmi’s dad asks.
“You are fine like this dear.” His mum adds.
“No sir…I’m not oh…I’m not just very hungry.”
“Okay…honey, make sure Bose packs some food for Simi when she’s going home.” He says to his wife.
“Yes of course, we made this food specially for her.”
Sunkanmi and I look at each other and smile. Conversation flows easily from work, to family, to the recent happenings in the country.
I feel like a member of the family already.
After lunch we move to the living room to watch a Christmas movie Joshua insisted we watch. He comes to sit between Sunkanmi and I on the sofa while Sunkanmi’s parents sit together. He talks excitedly throughout the movie, telling me what’s going to happen next because everyone else had seen the movie before.
“Ice cream anyone?” Sunkanmi announces halfway through the movie. His dad had fallen asleep.
“Yes please, but only vanilla.” His mum says.
“Do you need help?” I call after him on his way to the kitchen.
“Nah…I’m good. Continue the movie”
We continue the movie with Joshua leaning against my shoulder. Sunkanmi’s mum gets up after a while and goes into the kitchen. They are both in the kitchen for a while and I decide to check up on them.
“Joshua please can you pause the movie? Let me check on Sunkanmi.”
“Okay auntie. Don’t be long cos we just got to the interesting part.”
“Yeah, I’ll be right back!”
Sunkanmi and his mum are talking when I get into the kitchen oblivious to my entrance.
“She doesn’t know ke?”
“No mum she doesn’t. I’ve been trying to tell her.”
“Ah! Sunkanmi ko da o (It’s not good). How can you hide something like that from her? I really like Simi, omo daada ni (she’s a good girl).”
“Hiii Suks…I came to check on you.” I say pretending not to have heard their conversation. If they both suspected I overhead them, they did a good job at hiding it.
“Oh…babes I’m almost done.”
“Yes…he’s through.” His mum says.
I help him carry two of the ice cream bowls to the living room.
My mind travels a million miles while I watch the rest of the movie.
“Sims you okay?” Sunkanmi asks because I’ve been quiet since we left his parents’ house.
“Yeah I am.”
“Hope you liked my parents? They sure liked you.”
“Yeah your parents made me feel at home…it was nice to meet them.”
He drives in silence for a while and I insert William McDowell’s Arise Album and it brings back memories of our first date. This time however, we don’t sing along.
As soon as he parks in front of my house, I ask him the question that has been on my mind.
“So what have you been hiding from me?” I read the emotions on his face. Shock, guilt, embarrassment.
He doesn’t say anything for a while and I’m about to get out of his car when I hear “Joshua is mine.”
“You heard me. I’m Joshua’s father.”
Image credit: Google images.