Remi and her daughters sat on a bench outside their apartment. It was past six and the last time they ate was that morning. They all shared a loaf of bread and filled their stomach with water. Father and son left the house in search of job opportunities. Remi hoped that one of them would come home with good news. It had been nine weeks since her son returned home and he had not been able to find work. The boy was unhappy and distressed. He blamed himself for what happened to him. If he had seen Abisoye for who she was, he wouldn’t have associated with her in the first place.
Remi sighed heavily. If they had not quit their jobs, they wouldn’t be in the situation they were in. At least, they would be able to eat two square meals daily. Her husband had gone back to his former employer, but, the man had already hired a new security guard. The factory she and her daughters used to work as cleaner couldn’t take them back either. Their positions had been filled. There were so many unemployed people in the country and the vacancies available wouldn’t suffice.
Lola and Kemi stared at nothing in particular. They were hungry. They hoped that their father and brother would bring them something to eat. They dreaded going to bed on empty stomach. If only Gbemiga had not lost his job, they wouldn’t be in their present condition. They cursed the day he met Abisoye Da Silva.
“Is that not Bukky Alakara?” Remi saw the lady coming into the compound through the gate. She was carrying two blue and yellow Bagco sacks.
Lola and Kemi followed their mother’s gaze and saw their brother’s ex-boyfriend.
“What is she doing here?” Remi glanced at her daughters.
Lola shrugged, “Maybe she is visiting someone.”
Remi raised an eyebrow, “Who is she friend’s with in this compound?”
Kemi hissed and held her tummy, “Who cares?”
Bukky approached the trio. “Good evening ma.”
Remi looked her up and down. The girl seemed to have added weight. She also looked healthy and pretty.
“Lola, Kemi, hi…” she smiled at her ex-boyfriend’s sisters.
The girls stared at her, wondering what she wanted.
“Gbemiga told me that he lost his job. I know how difficult things can get. My family have been in this kind of situation and, I… I thought that em… these is for the family,” she dragged the bags to Remi’s side.
The woman looked into the bags and gasp. It contained foodstuffs. Lola and Kemi got up and began to search the bags. They found tubers of yam, sweet potato, plantain, beans, rice, garri, semolina, blended melon seeds, ogbonna, crayfish, dry pepper, salt, Maggi, frozen full chicken, tilapia fish, tomato, tatashe and rodo.
“I pray that the God who helped my family and I will also show up for you all.”
Remi looked up at her. Eyes glistered with tears. “God will bless you.”
“Sister Bukky, thank you o,” Lola grinned at her.
“Thank you so much. God will continue to increase you on all sides,” Kemi added.
“Amen,” she smiled back at them, “I used to have four sales girls, but, one of them has relocated and the other just got married. Her husband stays in Mafolukun. If you won’t mind, you can work for me till you get something better to do,” she addressed the girls.
Lola and Kemi glanced at their astonished mother, then back at their brother’s ex-girlfriend.
“You can think about it,” she added quickly.
“Think about what? There is nothing to think about,” Lola assured her.
“When can we start?” Kemi stared at her in excitement.
“What about tomorrow morning?”
“Perfect!” the girls chorused.
“Okay. I will be leaving home by seven.”
“We will be at your doorstep before seven,” Kemi said quickly.
“Okay. See you then,” she glanced at their mother, “Please extend my greetings to daddy and Gbemiga.”
“They will hear. Thank you my daughter.”
“Thank God ma,” she turned to the girls, “Later.”
Bukky turned around and headed for the gate. The moment she was out of ear-shot, the girls started to sing and dance.
Remi folded her arms and looked heavenwards. God had used the girl they disapproved to meet their needs. Did they make a mistake when they fought against her relationship with their son?
Gbemiga knocked on the door again. He was sure that she was home. He could hear the television. When he got home that night, his mother and sisters told him that his ex-girlfriend brought them foodstuff. For the first time in several weeks, they ate a good meal. His father claimed that what Bukky brought was worth over ten thousand naira. His family were grateful and completely taken by surprise. It was hard to believe that the very person they despised supported them in their time of need.
Everyone else turned away from them, including family and close friends. No one wanted to associate with failure.
The door opened, “Oh… hi… come in,” she backed into the apartment.”
He walked in and went to sit on the two setter.
“How was your day?” she adjusted her wrapper and sat on the bed.
“It was okay. I was given employment at Aiico Insurance as a marketer.”
“Wow!” she brightened, “Congratulations.”
“Thank you. I will be starting next week. God did it. Out of more than four hundred candidates, I was among the fifteen people that were chosen.”
“God is great!” she sighed with relief. She had been worried about him.
“I came to thank you for the foodstuff,” he looked straight at her.
She smiled, “My little contribution.”
He shook his head, “That wasn’t a little contribution. You are one of the few people that has supported us in this time of crisis.”
She turned to the television and sighed.
“God will bless and increase you mightily.”
“Thank you for also employing my sisters. At least, they will be able to contribute their quota. I won’t be the only one bearing the burden of taking care of the family.”
She glanced at him and smiled. She noticed how his eyes glistened with tears.
“We are all grateful. After how we all treated you…”
She raised a hand, “Hey… that is all in the past.”
“It is okay Gbemiga. I am just being my brother’s keeper.”
Their gazes locked. Gbemiga wished that his family had approved their relationship in the first place. Things would have turned out well for them. He wondered if there was an iota of hope for them.
Bukky cleared her throat and got up, “It is rather late. I need to be at the shop very early in the morning.”
He nodded and got up. “Bukky…”
They spoke at the same time. She chuckled and looked up at him. “What?”
“Bukky, is it possible?” he took some steps closer, “Is there a chance that we…”
She began to shake her head, “I am going to get married in a few months’ time.”
“Bukky…” he closed the gap between them, “I never stopped loving you,” he reached out for her hands.
She sighed heavily, “I don’t love you anymore.”
“Don’t say that,” he paled.
“It is the truth. I used to love you, but, my heart belongs to someone else now.”
“Give me one more chance. I believe that this time around, everything will work out fine.”
She shook her head. “I can’t.”
“Yes, you can.”
“I love Chike and I am going to marry him in December.”
He pulled her into his arms, “I know that there is still a part of you that loves me.”
“Stop deceiving yourself. My whole heart belongs to another. No atom of me pines for you.”
He stared at her long and hard. The confidence in her eyes mirrored her resolve.
“Let me go.”
“Yes, you can. I believe that someday, soon, you will find your damsel in distress.”
“Let me go…” she pulled away from him and stepped back.
“Good night Gbemiga. I wish you all the best.”
He sighed heavily and walked out with slow steps. The tears he had been holding back streamed down his dark face. He couldn’t believe that he had finally lost her.