Mark could hear the racket the moment he opened the front door of Yinka’s house. It was seven years after his reconciliation with Tera; he had obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in management,and was elected as the Acting CEO of his father’s conglomerate,ever since the septuagenarian man retired from his position. He laughed when he saw his twenty-seven year old bosom friend, Yinka, sitted at the dining area with his mischievous,five year old nephew, Timothy,banging on the tiled floor with a wooden spoon whilst Yinka looked on in dismay.
Grinning, Mark leaned against the door-jamb and watched them. Timothy spotted him.
” Mr Robot! ” He dropped the spoon and jumped up. Mark scooped him up, kissed him,and swung him around and up onto his shoulder.
” Now I can rest. ” Yinka affirmed after heaving a sigh of relief. He headed over to the kitchen to do the dirty dishes whilst the little boy giggled in Mark’s strong arms.
” Can I have a horseback ride, Robot? ‘
” If you go easy on me. ” Mark got down on all fours. Timmy swung on and clamped his skinny legs against Mark’s rib cage. Mark reared up and made a whinnying sound, Timmy held on,shrieking with laughter. He kicked his heels twice into Paul’s ribs.
” Easy, cowboy! ” Mark glanced up at Yinka laughing at them,with a kitchen glove in his hand. He allowed Timmy to ride him around the living room three times before he rolled over,spilling Timmy onto the ground. The child clambered quickly onto Mark’s stomach,bouncing none too gently.
” Uh Uh! ” Mark grunted.
He landed the hyper active child gently on the sofa twenty-five minutes later; he had fallen asleep. He kissed his forehead before heading into the Kitchen.
” The hyper-active munchkin must be asleep. ” Yinka spoke with a bright smile plastered around his mature,handsome face.
” Yeah. ” Mark responded and hung his jacket around the frame of a wooden chair in the kitchen.
” How was the wedding? ”
” Hmm!!!! ” Mark muttered under his breath. He looked tired and exhausted,he obviously needed some rest. Yinka put a handful of silverware into the drain rack and reached for a towel.
” Care for a cup a coffee? ”
He picked the coffee pot from its hot plate and filled two cups to the brim.
” Cream? Sugar? ”
” Black is fine,thanks. ”
” So? What happened at Oghene’s wedding. I can’t believe I missed it.. All because of that tyrant. Everyone seems to be getting married these days… ” He lifted the cup to his mouth with both hands and stared right into his friend’s eyes.
” Hmm.. Hmmm…. ” Mark nodded and averted his gaze.
” That’s the problem,isn’t it? Tera… ”
” Isn’t complaining.. But we got weird stares at the wedding.. She was the only single bridesmaid at the event.. They’ve been talking,and asking questions. ”
” And what exactly was your reply? Why don’t you want to? Fear of commitment? Chima’s already engaged,and Griselda’s carrying Nick’s baby…you and I seem to be getting too comfortable with bachelor-hood. ” He added with a light chuckle.
” I’m not afraid.. I just… ”
” Don’t know if its the right time? Tera is your life,you two already act like a married couple..so,why not take that step? Your parents still aren’t aware of your relationship,are they? ”
” No,they aren’t. We’ve decided to inform them after the proposal. ”
” Then,propose. Get a ring and go on your knees. You’re ready to be a father,but you just don’t know it. Timothy always wants to be around you..when he’s with me,we just stare at one another and watch tv like two dumb folks. But you,you make him come alive. That’s a good trait,and also a subliminal sign. Get your life-sized teddy bear a ring. ”
Tera Olagunju had lost a couple of pounds over the years. She was now one of the Senior Architects at a prestigious construction company in the city. She had experienced quite a bit of emotional strain at the wedding ceremony earlier on,and tried to forget all that transpired between her, Marilyn and Griselda at the party. After working on some of her designs and sending a few mails,she shut her system down and got ready for bed. She heard a knock at her door whilst she was putting on her white nightie; it was her mom. Mrs Olagunju had aged with grace over the past couple of years; mother and daughter seemed too look more alike at the dawn of everyday,but for Tera’s spectacles.
” You’ve come of age now,my dear. I’m not necessarily asking you to get married this instant but,you should at least have a fiancee. I can’t believe the only dominant male figure in your life is still Mark. Don’t you want to get married? You have a wonderful job,a car,and a great personality. I wasn’t as ripe as you are now when I got married to your dad. ” The woman spoke with her hands wrapped around her daughter’s.
” I’ve heard you, Ma. I want to get married… ”
” But you aren’t in a relationship. Take your suitors more seriously. Or..are you dating someone? You told me you were in a relationship seven years ago,and I’m very certain the affair has ended,hasn’t it? ” She continued when her daughter refused to provide an answer to her question.
” If it hasn’t,and he hasn’t proposed to you yet,maybe you should leave him alone. That simply means he’s not serious. ” She added and planted a goodnight kiss on her daughter’s forehead before walking out.
Tera was baffled. She was about to go down on her knees when her phone rang. It was Mark.
” I’m sorry..I should have called earlier but…. ” Her mind was wandering off,she could barely hear him.
” Babe..can we do this tomorrow? I’m tired.. Love you. ” She paled and held her breath,but it did no good. She splashed warm water over her face and pressed it into a soft towel before going to bed.
” Are you home? I’m at your door.. ” Tera adjusted the ear plugs in her ear whilst she spoke.
” I expected you to cancel our appointment… You sounded so strange yesterday.. ”
” I was feeling sleepy… ” She heard a loud beep before completing her statement; he had ended the call.
” Evil you.. ” She hit his shoulders lightly after stepping into the posh,bachelor pad. Her beautiful,monochrome gown accentuated her elegant curves. She wondered why he looked so casual; he was clad in a pair of black shorts and red t-shirt. His eyes were reddened,and he sniffed unconsciously.
” Beautiful you. ” He replied and walked back to the kitchen almost immediately. She trailed behind him inquisitively. The delightful aroma of rosemary filtered into her nostrils; he was preparing a bowl of fish pepper soup.
” You remember.. Its the 27th..the remedy for my cramps..you hardly cook. ” Her eyes were lit up with gratitude and excitement. She placed her spectacles on the counter and sauntered towards him like a cat.
” Just when I thought it was impossible for me to love you more… ” Her hands gripped his back firmly after tilting her head towards him. She reached for his lips swiftly and wished she would never have to let go of him.
” Its nothing,my love. Care to have a taste? Pardon me if its a bit on the salty or spicy side. I didn’t know how spicy the pepper was so I virtually emptied all the contents in the shaker into the broth. ” He explained with a guilt ridden expression as he lifted a silver spoon to her lips.
” Hot! So hot!! ” She cried out and fanned her open mouth with both hands.
” Uh… I’m sorry… ” He fidgeted and raised a glass of chilled water to her lips.
” Its not working. ” She complained after gulping down the entire glass.
” This should work. ” She added with a serious expression on her face,and reached for his lips once more.
” The heart wants what it wants . ” She spoke with a passionate look on her face.
” Even an unworthy husband who doesn’t know his way around the kitchen? ”
” There you go again! So,you mean after all these years…you still haven’t gotten rid of that stupid notion? I can’t believe this!! You!! Mr Acting CEO.. Not worthy of nerdy Tera? !!!! I can’t cope with this anymore…I’m out of here.. ” She scoffed and jammed the door angrily on her way out. Tears ran down her swollen lips,with the spicy taste still in her mouth; she couldn’t believe Mark’s words;now she knew why he hadn’t popped the big question yet.
He stared into mid-air for a few more minutes,like there was an actual person there,and was completely oblivious to the actual fact that his soup was burning. Mark was a confident,and well groomed young man whose esteem was most healthy and definitely far from inferior in all aspects,except Tera’s.
It was seven days after their fight. Mark hadn’t spoken,seen,or received a message from her ever since. She deliberately refused to pick his calls or even see him at the office. He had gone to pay her a visit but was informed that she was unable to receive any guests at the time. He ordered his driver to take him to her house on his way back from work that evening; she was still living with her parents.
” Would you please come outside? I really need to see you. I’m at your gate. ” He typed the text hastily and peered outside his window the minute he received a delivery report.
She wondered what he had to say to her this time around. Another round of apology? She asked herself as she put on a pair of bugs-bunny flip flops and climbed down the stairs. She went back to her room to apply make-up, ” A gentleman should always wait after-all. ” She soliloquised after stepping out of her gate. Tera was coming out eighty minutes after receiving his message.
” I’m sorry.. I shouldn’t have said that earlier on.. ”
” You should have..because those words reflected your thoughts towards me. I hate that you think you don’t deserve me…where did you even get that idea from? I was really hurt.. ” She crossed her arms around her chest whilst she spoke with a frown spread across her face.
” From myself. I’m your first boyfriend,and you’re my what? Fifteenth girlfriend? ”
” But you’re my first and only best friend,and I’m yours too..that’s all that matters.. ”
” Yeah… Your words made me realize that last week. Forgive me,please? Mort and I are pleading on our knees.. ” He added with a faint smile and pointed to the cute character from the Penguins of Madagascar cartoon,which was drawn on his green t-shirt.
” I’ll forgive you for his sake. ” She added with a giggle and pulled him up to his feet.
” Thanks,my love. Can we visit the cinema now? ”
” Now? With these ripped shorts? And my camisole? Come on! A nerd like me shouldn’t be caught wearing this with a hot shot like you anywhere..talk more of the cinema. ”
” What if its empty? ”
” But the weather is cold… ”
” You can have my blazer….. ”
” Okay. ” She responded with a light chuckle after he plastered her face with tender pecks. They walked into the car shortly after; the cinema was an hour away from Tera’s house,but the traffic almost doubled the distance.
” I love you.. ” He whispered under his breath and claimed her lips with his for the umpteenth time.
” Mr Akinwale! What if there’s another camera in your vehicle? Remember what happened seven years ago? And your driver.. ”
” He can’t say a word to my parents. And, if there’s a camera here,then we need to shoot a scene for the news headlines…” He added and grabbed her mouth with his again.
” I can’t believe you emptied the cinema.. This is a first for me. ” Tera exclaimed as she stepped into the hall which was quite dark and sparsely lit with several colorful spot-lights. The projectors were plain-white,with a timer at the bottom of the screen.
” Would you please close your laps? I wanna sit on you.. That’s the only way I won’t fall asleep. ” Tera requested with a broad grin. She was seated on his laps with her ripped bum-shorts shortly after.
” I hope this isn’t a bomb… Why’s the timer running so fast? ”
” You aren’t scared,are you? ”
” Not when I’m with you. ” She placed her nose right in front of his playfully. Her attention was attracted when she heard the soft playing of a violin,which was her favorite instrument.
” Oh my God!!! ” Her pupils were dilated when she saw a familiar figure on the screen. It was a video of her and Mark at the celebration of his eighth birthday. She had pushed him off the swing whilst they were playing at the party,and he was acting unconscious. A smile plastered across her face as she saw herself crying out loud with her little palms placed over his chest to check his pulse. She pinched his knee lightly when he sprang back to life in the video; he had pranked her,and his parents couldn’t seem to stop laughing when she bursted out in tears. The thought of losing him had been her greatest fear even when she was barely eight. The hall was lit up gradually,the chandeliers and spotlights seemed to be coming on systematically.
A video of their high school graduation played immediately after. She saw her overweight self smiling broadly as she received an award for the best behaved student,and took several pictures with her frail-looking bestie who was carrying a weird looking afro hairdo. The golden book which was displayed at the end of every video was flipped over to the next page titled ” The best moments of my life. ” A video of their passionate encounter seven years ago was played,and another of their graduation ceremony. They had both graduated tops in their departments. Several pictures of their recent times together appeared on the screen. The caption ” Will You Marry Me? ” appeared boldly on the screen with electronic fire-work effects,and Jason Derulo’s song with the same title was on air-play.
” I can’t believe this. ” She exclaimed with a hand placed over her chest. Tera couldn’t believe her eyes; he was getting down on one knee. She wanted to cry,dance,and hug him all at once.
” Sorry…this is coming late. I should have done this seven years ago,I guess I was afraid of what your reaction would have been back then,considering the fact that we were both teenagers…I didn’t think that was the right time. Over the years,I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment and opportunity for this..but now,I know better. Every second spent with you is right and perfect..so,there’s really no reason to wait any longer. My love…do you remember,how desperate we were to build a tree house when we were almost ten years old? ”
” Yes,I do. ” She nodded emphatically whilst she spoke.
” Our parents felt we were crazy and unrealistic,they insisted that we would get hurt by the thorns and thistles of the trees and weeds…they complained that it would be a waste of time and money. But we,on the other hand,refused to hearken to them. We believed the tree house would be our fort,and refuge; a place of solace..which would shield us from the world and its weird humans.. We wanted to carve a niche for ourself in the tree house,and envisioned what our future together would be like in it. ” He chuckled lightly and went on.
” They stopped us then,but they can’t…not this time. Can we build our very own tree house now? There may be challenges along the way but..believe me, I’ll always be there with you and, we’ll surmount the thorns and thistles together. Our parents cannot stop us now like they did before..and Nick, Griselda..even the devil can’t stop us. You’ve been a best friend,mother,sister,girlfriend was and a source of inspiration to me. Will my teddy bear marry me? ”
” Yes ! ” Ecstatic tears of joy ran down her eyes as he placed the ring on her finger. It was a white gold band with blue diamonds around it.
” Mrs Tera Akinwale. ” He was the first person to address her with that name.
” Awwww…. I’ve been waiting for this day to come for years now…and imagining how you’d propose…I never envisaged it to be this way… You always make me feel so special… Thank you,bestie ” Happy tears were falling down her eyes whilst she spoke. She couldn’t stop staring at the ring; not in admiration of its net worth,but because of what it represents.
The home of the Olagunju’s was a beehive of activities that Saturday morning. Both parents were clueless as to the gentleman who proposed to their daughter three days ago,and felt quite upset that she had refused to reveal his identity. Mr Olagunju had invited his older brother,who was the head of their family clan to the family dinner a day before. The time slot seemed so far away; he wished it was 12p.m,or better still 4p.m. He couldn’t wait to see the gentleman his only daughter wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Tera was awakened by a knock at her door; it was Chris. He had just gotten enrolled in the university to study Medicine.
” Sweetheart.. ”
” Good morning, Sis. ”
” Are you alright? Come and sit next to me. ”
” I’m fine.. Just can’t believe you’re getting married soon. I’m worried and very concerned. What if the guy isn’t cool? I don’t want anyone to take you away from me. ”
” He’s cool.. And no one can take me away from you. I love you. ” The two siblings shared a warm hug which provided Chris with the assurance he needed.
” Ah ah.. Rachael! What are you doing here? ” Mrs Olagunju asked with both arms akimbo as her friend walked in with a knee-length gown.
” Its your son oh…. ” She was interrupted by the entry of Mark and his father. He looked nervous and handsome in his white blazer and chocolate brown trousers.
Both parents stole glances at one another,and at Mark as they were seated at the dining table; He was awaiting Tera’s entry,and the Olagunju’s were waiting for Tera and her fiancee. She walked in shortly after in a white peplum gown and paid customary greetings to her parents,and uncle. The elderly man,who was seated at the center of his table cleared his throat before speaking.
” Uhmmm….. Tera….where is your suitor? Is he on his way or…? ”
” Dad, Mom, Uncle.. Its Mark.. ” She spoke with her head bowed down,Tera was blushing. His voice prompted her to raise her head,and stare right at her parents,and his. The Akinwale’s had treated her like a daughter for the past few years.
” Tera…is my fiancee…. ”
” Ah!! Mark? Tera? ” Mrs Olagunju exclaimed after gulping a glass of water.
” Right under our noses? I saw the signs,but I thought I was being overtly imaginative. ” Rachael Akinwale tapped her son lightly on his shoulder,and laughed out loud.
” You’ve been together for how long? ” Mr Olagunju wore a frown on his face.
” Seven years. I’m sorry, Sir. I wanted this to be surprise. ”
” Don’t be startled.. You’re my son. I’m just in a state of shock.. So you were the one responsible for her mood-swings, Huh?… These children.. ” He smiled at Mark,and nodded in approval.
” Ah…. Funny kids… They outsmarted us all.. ” Mr Akinwale commented with a loud laugh and averted his gaze towards Tera;he was well pleased.
” Thank you, thank you !! ” Chris cried out and rose up to give Mark a warm hug. Glasses were raised to the new couple,and both parents blessed their union with swelling joy radiating in their hearts.
Mark and Tera got married two months later. Contrary to people’s expectations,the ceremony was quite small; with only family,and close friends in attendance. Mrs Tera Akinwale started her own Architectural firm which spread across the continent,whilst her husband maintained his position as the Herald of the indomitable Midas Conglomerate. Mr and Mrs Akinwale produced three loving kids; two boys,and one girl who looked very much like their parents. Their tree house blossomed,and grew stronger by the day. And their love,like fine wine.,grew sweeter and continually renewed.
** The End **
*** Thanks for reading. ***
*** With much love,Elizah. ***