She was running very fast to catch up with his car. For some strange reason, her legs couldn’t move as fast as she wanted them to and soon, he drove out of the compound. She didn’t give up hope, even then, because she knew that she just had to stop him. She lengthened her strides and ran as fast as she could, to keep him in sight.
Soon, he made a stop to pick up someone, who had obviously been waiting for him. She thought she could catch up with him then but just as she was getting close to his car, he drove off again.
She was frustrated and was very tired because she had run for a very long time but she knew how important it was to get him to stop.
The traffic light changed to red just before he crossed an intersection so his car came to a halt again. With a renewed sense of hope, she ran faster till panting, she pulled to a stop beside his car. She took a look at his passenger now and quickly looked away as those haunted eyes stared back. She quickly went round to his side and rapped frantically on his window. He turned his head to look at her with stormy eyes and drove off without a word to her.
She knew then, that she had lost him. She stood with her hands over her mouth and tears streaming down her face as she watched him leave. She saw the commuter bus that came hurtling from his left towards his car. She couldn’t stop the shrill scream that came out of her mouth as the bus slammed into his car, sending it into a crazy spin. She saw his car slam into two of the cars that had been behind him. She heard the screeching of brakes as other commuters forced their cars to a halt. She saw people leaving their cars in a hurry and scampering to safety.
All she could do was scream.
“Wake up, Timi. Wake up, my daughter,” her mother said, cradling Timi, whose screams gradually subsided to whimpers as she became aware of her surroundings.
“Oh, Mama, I had that dream again,” she cried and started sobbing brokenly. “I tried to get him to stop. I tried to warn him, Mama. But, he didn’t even stop to listen to me, Mama. He just stared at me like I was a stranger whom he hated. Then, he drove off with her. Why didn’t he listen to me, Mama? All these would have been averted.”
“My daughter, your mind is only playing tricks on you because you were not even there. How could you have been able to stop your husband from getting hit by that careless driver when you neither had a premonition of those events nor were even at the scene? Your husband doesn’t hate you, Timi. These nightmares torture you so, I hope they stop soon,” Ireti, Timi’s mother, replied.
“Mama, what am I going to do? How do I raise our three children alone? How do I go from one day to the next, knowing that the last conversation I had with my husband was one filled with a lot of animosity. We fought all the time but all those fights seem so unimportant now, Mama. I would do anything to change how coldly we had treated each other before he left the house that morning. I would do anything to tell him one more time just how much I love him.”
“My child, you are putting the cart before the horse. Your husband is not dead; yet, you talk about him like he already was. You were the one that encouraged me when I was very ill. You told me not to give up hope. You told me to trust God to heal me. Where is that faith now, Timi? Is it not a miracle that Deji even survived that horrible accident that took the lives of others? We can only pray that…”
Cutting off her mother, Timi cried, “Mama, Deji lies on that hospital bed, completely broken and unrecognizable. He is fighting for his life. The doctors are not very optimistic that he’ll make it because they say that his injuries are extensive. I haven’t lost my faith, Mama. I pray everyday for him to get better, regardless of what the doctors say. Mama, it’s not the head injury that scares me so much. I’m fearful of the outcome of that but I’m even more afraid that if he, by some miracle, becomes okay, I would have still lost him.”
“She’s dead, my daughter. You are alive and you are his wife. You have a family together. You’ve made good memories over the years and you can still make more,” Ireti responded, still cradling her daughter.
“Mama, she was pregnant! We had more than our fair share of problems but I never cheated on my husband. I always believed that our relationship would get better with time. He obviously didn’t share that belief, Mama. At the hospital, while I shed tears of joy that he was alive, he opened his eyes and called out her name. As if that was not enough, Mama, he asked if her baby was safe. Those were his only words to me, after surviving such horror. Can’t you see that means that he cared about her, a great deal? Even if he gets better, what sort of marriage can we have now?” Timi responded and sobbed even harder. While her mother consoled her, Timi allowed her mind to drift.
For the two years they had dated, her relationship with Deji had been great. However, shortly after they got married, they started having incessant arguments about everything, ranging from the ridiculous to the serious. She remembered now, the day they had argued about books that had been left on the dining table.
He had been reading on that table earlier and after he was done, he had not put away his books. She had waited for him to move them and when he hadn’t done so by the third day, she had put them away neatly on his bookshelf. When Deji noticed that the books were gone from the table, he had not been amused and had said that she was disrespectful for moving his books without asking him first. In the ensuing argument, he had said that she had to learn who wore the pants in their relationship and that had made her mad. They had always been very close so she couldn’t understand why things had to change all because they were now married. That was in the beginning.
Later, they argued about the number of children they would have. She had wanted three while he thought that two was enough. When she got pregnant a third time during their fourth year of marriage, he had accused her of deliberately getting pregnant against his wishes. The pregnancy had come as a shock to her so she had been hurt by that accusation. Their relationship had deteriorated and it was only the birth of a girl who looked a lot like his mother that had healed the rift between them.
They had argued a lot about money too. Deji didn’t think that his wife needed to know how much he earned and what he did with his money, as long as all his financial obligations to the family were met. Timi hadn’t wanted a splitting of financial responsibilities. She would have preferred it if they pooled their resources together to run their home from a common purse but he would have none of that. So, she ended up taking care of all the household expenses herself while he took care of the children’s school fees and all other major expenditure.
She knew nothing about investments that he made. She had asked him in the past but he had thought her too inquisitive and had always been vague with his answers. Even though she still resented that, she had finally accepted that he wasn’t as open as she was and had stopped asking him.
Her relationship with his mother had been another source of problems between them. Her mother-in-law had never hidden the fact that she would have preferred it if her son had married the girl she had picked out for him. Theresa was her best friend’s daughter, after all and would have made an excellent wife for Deji. Yet, he had gone ahead to marry that Ijebu girl against his mother’s wishes. She wasn’t overtly unfriendly but she hadn’t welcomed Timi with open arms. Deji and Timi had been married for six years; yet, his mother hadn’t warmed up to Timi.
Recently, when her mother-in-law’s home was being renovated by her children, Deji had wanted his mother to move in with them for a while. But, Timi had vehemently refused. After countless arguments with Deji, she still did not budge so the senior Mrs. Akinola had moved in with her first daughter, Bunmi.
That had further deteriorated the relationship Timi had with her husband.
“You cannot spare a little warmth for my mother yet, I’ve always shown love to yours,” he had accused. “She was not going to live here forever, you know.”
“My mother has always shown a lot of love to you too so, it’s only right that you reciprocate,” she had countered. “On the other hand, your mother has never hidden the fact that she still thinks that I’m not good enough for you. Why would I want her living with us for any length of time when I know that all she’ll do is criticize me every opportunity she gets?”
He had stared at her and then, stormed off.
Their relationship had become even more strained after that. He had started keeping late nights and they had argued about that.
They used to go on dates before but they hardly went anywhere together now. Judging by the number of strangers she had met in the hospital since the accident, he had friends whom she knew nothing about. They had argued about that too.
Thinking about their life together, she realized that they had argued a lot.
“We laughed a lot too,” she remembered now.
She remembered grumbling when the kids came to wake them very early on Saturday mornings. She would point them in their father’s direction and the three of them would jump on him till he woke. They would all roll around the bed, tickling each other and laughing. Saturdays had always been family day for them. Neither of them made plans with anyone else that didn’t involve the entire family. That was one rule they had never compromised.
She remembered how good it had felt to sit alone with her husband, on the nights they were not fighting about anything, and watch a movie, after the kids had gone to bed. Some nights, they had just held each other and caught up on each other’s day.
She remembered taking a trip with him to Calabar last year for the annual festival, while Timi’s mother had stayed with the kids in Lagos. It had been the first time they had taken a trip together since they had the children and that had been a honeymoon of sorts for them. There had been none of the usual arguments between them so that holiday had been a time of re-discovery for both of them. Except for phone calls from and to their family, they had not been in touch with anyone else.
However, when they came back home, they had gradually slipped back into their old life.
Timi sighed deeply now.
“Mama, I’m okay now. You need to get some rest,” she said.
“Are you sure, my daughter? I can stay here with you till you can fall asleep again,” Ireti replied.
Timi hugged her mother. “Mama, I don’t know how I would have been able to cope if you hadn’t been here since the accident. You have been my rock. But, I need you to remain strong so you do have to go to bed now.”
After hugging Timi back, Ireti left. Timi lay on the bed, willing sleep to come. After some minutes passed, she found that she still couldn’t sleep so she got up and picked the novel she had been reading on the day of the accident. She turned a few pages without really seeing what was on them. Her mind drifted off again.