When I got back to school, I put all machinery in place, called and mailed her every month, sending cards and gifts, not minding if she replied and I paid her visits whenever I was in Lagos. All these while, she would play the perfect friend and whenever my friends were around, she would behave in a way as not to make me lose face before my friends but when we were together, she always reminded me we were just friends. I was satisfied as it were and I had the hope she will break one day.
By the time she was getting ready to write her JAMB, I was already serving in Port Harcourt but I was always in Lagos every month end, we would go out to the beach, clubs and generally enjoy ourselves but that was where it ended. I never mentioned the issue of an affair again but I was letting time take its toll. She had now gained admission into the University of Calabar where she was studying Theatre Arts. She was more mature, rounder and even prettier and more attractive than she was three years earlier. Then on her 20th birthday celebration, things took a different turn. After the party at Jaccuzi, I took her to a popular beach resort at about 2 a.m. Since I was known there, I had no trouble gaining entrance.
When we got there, the moon was shinning and reflected on the silent water and I believed this was a time philosophers always call the celebration of nature. After sitting in the car for sometime without talking, I got out and walked bare-footed to the shade of a coconut tree and sat down staring at the ocean. The effect of that night stills lives fresh in my memories till this very moment. I was there for about five minutes when I felt her squatting beside me and throwing a stone into the sea. I looked up and found her staring into my eyes. Her eyes were filled with tears. We looked at each other for some time before she stood up and extended her hands to me. I held her and stood. She had grown quite tall and her head reached up to my shoulders as I stood at my full six feet. We still held hands while we stood. She was breathing hard.
Bayo, do you still love me? Can you find it in your heart to forgive me for all the hurt I have made you undergo?” Her voice was not steady. I held her face in my hand, lifted them up and found she was crying. Her tears were running down in torrents. I kissed the tears away.
“Look Tinu, I will always love you, no matter how long it takes you to consent to love me back. In fact, I have even enjoyed my knowing you and being close to you more than anything.” She then fell into my arms and we kissed like mad. When we were saturated, we walked back, hand in hand to the car. That brokered the beginning of our full time relationship.
We made love that same night in my flat and I met Tinu a virgin. Indeed, that was one of the things that endeared me most to her. Before now, Tinu had started acting in some local films and she was becoming quite popular. We went to so many places together. At about this time too, Dad was slowly relinquishing his hold of the family conglomerate due to his failing health and I was assuming greater control. Immediately Tinu graduated from the university, she took in and we had a big society wedding which was marked with pomp and fanfare.
Eight months later, she gave birth to a bouncing set of twins and that was the day my Dad died. It was a mixture of sadness and joy. After Dad’s burial, I continued the running of the business and introduced other thriving perspectives. I ventured into oil prospecting, freighting and transport. In no time, the company, Barret Holdings grew in leaps and bounds.
After a year or so of nursing our sons, Tinu ventured back into acting with my full support, of course. There was a film in which she acted as a prostitute but I understood even though this generated a lot of negative publicity. After acting for six months, she decided to go into video production and with my backing, she started being less and less at home and the kids missed her attention.
When I continued to complain that she should have some more time for us, she pleaded that she had some projects at hand and when she completed them, she would stay more at home. I understood. I didn’t want my kids to grow under the care of a nanny, so I brought my mum to help take care of them. Things were going on fine except for the strain in our relationship due to Tinu’s incessant absence from home. When mum complained, I told her to understand that Tinu was a career woman at her peak but she was against the whole arrangement and couldn’t understand why a woman would leave her two year old kids at home almost all the time.
The more Tinu became popular, the more we became estranged. Somewhere along the line, there was an opening for her to go and act in America. There was going to be a production of an all-African Film, and she with a budding actor, was selected from Nigeria. I was against it but she somehow managed to convince me. I couldn’t have known that was beginning of the end of our marriage. While in America, Tinu engaged herself in one scandal or the other, jumping from one Hollywood actor to another. And trust our junk journalists, the guys went to town. They brought the story home to me and rubbed my nose in it too. They even pointed that our marriage was heading for the rocks, “according to a reliable family source.” I was at a loss who that reliable family source was. I was also at my wits end at what to do when Tinu comes back. I did not know that there was to be the mother of all troubles when she did come back.
She came back two weeks later looking haggard and tired. I knew it was the effect of jumping around. After she rested, I confronted her with the allegations but she flared up, something she had never done before.
From then on, she started being nasty at the slightest opportunity. She would bark at Mum and me at random. I still condoned her because of my children. About two months later, Kim Chong Loo, my business agent in Hong Kong, phoned in to say that a business we had been trying to broker with the Japanese government had materialised and that I should come over there. I got ready and left immediately.
The business dragged on for some time and I had to spend about six months going to and fro Japan and Hong Kong. In the third month of my absence, Tinu phoned to tell me that my mum had been found dead in her bath and the autopsy said it was food poisoning. I then realised that I had left her at the mercy of Tinu and anything could have happened. I knew I had neglected my mum and that hurt me more than anything. I can still remember vividly the night Mum cursed me, though then, I did not think much of it.
I had come back tired and drunk since Tinu had driven me to the bottle. I met them exchanging hot words but I couldn’t care less. But in my stupor, I heard Mum say amidst cries;
“So Bayo, your wife has blinded you against your mum, eh?
If you are my son who sucked my breast, you must send this woman away, if not, the milk of this breast will find you out.” She hit her breast. I sauntered into my bedroom. I wanted to apologise to mum when I got back from Hong Kong but now she was dead. I hurried home for the burial, I went back to Hong Kong but I was arrested at the Victoria Airport for allegedly being in possession of 800 kgs of heroin. I sang a swan song of innocence but no one was willing to listen to me. My agents tried their best but could not get me out of trouble. I was jailed for five years. It was while in the prison that I was told my business empire had crumbled and that my wife had auctioned off my things, including my fleet of cars, houses and everything.
When I had I was through with my sentence, I was deported and I came to meet a bare land. No money, no friends, no prospects. As for Tinu, I was told she married one up and coming actor and was now living a life of opulence. She had made away with all my property and the immovable ones, she sold out. She left my twins at the mercy of some old relations. It was then I realised that my celebrated drug case was a frame up by none other than my wife who planted the drugs in my suitcase.
She has succeeded in reducing me to a mere beggar but then, I am still counting my blessings. My life in jail has taught me a lot of things. But Tinu would soon join the hell’s band wagon. It is a promise made for myself, my mum, for Taiwo and Kehinde and for humanity!
To Be Continued…