Omotola Part 3
To read Part 1, click here.
Yemi stared at the handset. She had actually disconnected the call. He couldn’t believe the gall of the woman. What was her problem anyway? He was just trying to deliver the package her mother had sent and she was acting as if he was about to jump down her throat.
He shook his head as he tossed the phone on to his desk. Women! They were such a complicated breed, he would never figure them out. The only woman he’d even come close to understanding had unfortunately been taken away from him when attempting to give birth to their child who didn’t make it either.
The pain that usually accompanied thoughts of his late wife, Bukky, and their baby gripped his heart in a vice. He felt guilty that he was alive and they were dead. No matter how many times his family had told him differently, he blamed himself for their deaths. If he hadn’t been so set on having children, Bukky would probably still be alive today.
His friends and family were determined to get him married off again and there was no end to the string of women they tried to introduce to him. He humoured them sometimes but he’d gotten fed up of the vacuous airheads a lot of the women turned out to be. Most of them were only interested in his money not him as a person.
He’d had his one chance at love. Bukky had been his soul mate, his friend, confidante and lover. He wasn’t expecting to experience such a love again or find someone who could complement him the way Bukky had. He didn’t even think he had it in him to love someone that way again. His heart lay buried in that cemetery with Bukky and their baby.
If he was ever going to remarry, then it would have to be to a woman whom he respected, who was not overly impressed by his wealth and who could hold her own with him. Even though he didn’t hold out much hope of finding such a woman, he would love to have children.
When his aunt happened to, ever so casually, mention her friend’s daughter in Port Harcourt after she’d learned he would be setting up the new branch there, he’d recognised it for what it was – a ploy to get him to meet yet another woman. He’d told her in no uncertain terms that he didn’t need her or anyone else sorting out his love life. She’d denied she’d had any ulterior motives than him getting some jewellery Tola’s mother had bought across to her daughter.
He’d thought it would have been rather churlish of him to refuse to take the parcel so had grudgingly accepted to make the delivery when he arrived Port Harcourt. If he was in any doubts about his decision to steer clear of his family’s matchmaking , his telephone conversation with Tola had erased them.
If, and when, he decided to start a relationship, it would be with someone of his own choosing. Definitely not a woman like Tola Ayeni.
“I can’t believe all three of us are actually here. It’s been like forever since we’ve managed to do this,” Tola smiled as she looked at her friends. “I was convinced I would get a call from one of you at the last minute saying you couldn’t make it.
“I can’t speak for Tomi but I needed this break desperately. I’ve been working sixty to eighty hours a week at the hospital to complete my residency. There’s not a lot that could have kept me away.” Shade replied as she nodded her head in time to the soft jazz music playing in the bar.
“Well, I haven’t seen either of you in almost six months, I sure as hell wasn’t planning on missing this. So what’s been happening with you two?” Tomi asked, as she emptied her glass of red wine.
“Hey Tomi, go easy on the wine. That’s your third glass and the evening has barely begun.” Tola said.
“My dear, I’ve just spent the last week on a detox retreat in Thailand and the week before that in a convent. Needless to say, there was no alcohol. I have some catching up to do.” Tomi replied, as she signalled the bartender to pour her another glass.
“Tomi, I didn’t come all this way to see you get drunk and dancing on tables.” Shade said. They all laughed.
“That’s not fair, Shade. It only ever happened once and it wasn’t my fault, my drink was spiked.” Tomi pretended to be upset. “At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Ok, I promise to switch to sparkling water after this glass. In the meantime, I’m toasting our-soon-to-be pediatric consultant.” She lifted her glass towards Shade.
“Thanks, my dear. I can hardly believe it myself. I’m just relieved the hard grind is behind me and I can now enjoy the benefits of being an-almost consultant. Bayo is over the moon. At least he gets to see me most evenings and sometimes in the morning before we both head out to work.”
“How is Bayo? And how are things with you two?” Tola asked.
“Like I said, he’s really happy my residency days are over. Things were tough for a while back then, with me working all the hours God sent but we are good now. Finally settling into married life.” Shade replied.
“I’m glad to hear you guys are ok. Bayo is a good man. Tomi, the last time we talked, I remember you saying something about some guy you’d met on one of your travels, can’t remember exactly which one now. How did that go?” Tola asked.
“Jola,” Tomi replied, sighing. “That was my trip to the Pocono mountains. We seemed to hit it off at first but then there just seem to be too many obstacles for us to overcome.” She wiped at the corners of her eyes with a napkin before the tears could fall down her face.
Tola looked at Shade with raised eyebrows. She couldn’t ever remember seeing her friend cry much less over a man. She must really like this guy. Tola was curious to find out more about the situation with Jola and Tomi but she knew this wasn’t the right time.
“Enough about me,” said Tomi, a bright smile lighting up her face. “Tola, what’s your mum been up to these days?”
“You wouldn’t believe the half of it.” Tola rolled her eyes. “She thinks I’m incapable of meeting someone and conducting a relationship without her help. I’ve tried to get her off my back but she just doesn’t stop.”
“I can’t really blame her though, your track record with relationships isn’t exactly, erm…“ Shade shrugged as she left her sentence incomplete.
“Ah! Shade, you’re not being fair. The fact that I haven’t dated a long list of men doesn’t necessarily make me incapable of choosing my own dates.” Tola protested.
“At least you know your mother loves you. What wouldn’t I give for my mother to try to set me up with someone?” Tomi said. Tola knew how difficult it was for Tomi to talk about her mother who had left her with her father for another man when she was barely three years old and had since flitted in and out of her life.
“Trust me, Tomi, if it happened as regularly as it does to me, you would hate it. The latest one is some widower and nephew of one of mum’s friends. He was moving to Port Harcourt and mum gave him some jewellery to give to me.” Tola shook her head in exasperation.
“Ooh! Maybe she sent him with an engagement ring to propose. Now wouldn’t that be something!” Tomi teased.
“Tomi, stop,” Tola scolded, as she struggled to stop laughing. “It’s not funny at all.”
“So what’s this one like?” Shade asked.
“I have no idea. I haven’t met him yet.”
“What do you mean you haven’t met him yet?” Tomi asked.
“Exactly what I said. Mum told me about him three months ago but I told her I wasn’t interested. I thought she’d finally listened when I didn’t hear from him all this while. Then out of the blue, just as I was leaving work earlier today, he called.”
“And?” Shade asked, tilting her head.
“And nothing. He asked when would be a good time to drop off the parcel and also if we could meet up so I could tell him how to find his way around town. I declined the invitation in no uncertain terms and cut off the call.” Tola replied, heatedly.
“Hmm!” said Shade.
“What?” asked Tola.
“I don’t know,” Shade shrugged. “Wasn’t that a bit rude and a tad premature?”
“I did tell him to text me his address and I would send a driver over to pick it up but he insisted on bringing it himself. I was quite clear that I wasn’t interested but he wouldn’t take a hint. What else should I have done?” Tola realised she was getting a bit defensive but she couldn’t help it. She expected her friends to empathise with her not criticise her actions.
“I understand all that but he might not be privy to your mother’s scheming and is probably just being a gentleman.” Shade said, placing her hand over Tola’s.
“Did you say he’s a widower?” Tomi asked. “What’s his name again?”
“Yemi Cole,” replied Tola.
Tomi whistled as she raised her eyes in amazement. “Wow!”
“What is it?” Tola asked, curious about Tomi’s reaction to the name.
“I know him. Or shall I say, I know of him?” Tomi replied.
“Really” Shade asked. “Spill the beans then.”
“He’s an oil and gas magnate. Worth millions of dollars. A few years ago, I heard his wife died in childbirth. The baby didn’t survive either. He doesn’t socialise much outside of business get-togethers. Lots of women would and have tried to sell their souls to be with him but he’s not been linked with anyone since his wife died,” said Tomi.
“Oh dear! Tola, I think you’ve goofed this time,” Shade said, as she shook her in disapproval.
“Puhleeze! Just because the guy is loaded doesn’t mean he is the kind of person I’d want to be with.” Tola waved her hand dismissively.
“I wasn’t just referring to his money. I meant, if someone in his position and with all his responsibilities was insisting on personally dropping your package off, you were a bit rude in dismissing him the way you did. And he doesn’t sound to me like one of your mother’s usual errand boys. Just saying.” Shade shrugged.
“Shade’s right, Tola. You owe the man an apology.” Tomi added.
Tola groaned inwardly as her friends ganged up on her. She knew they had a point but was too embarrassed to say anything. She had misjudged the situation badly. He most certainly didn’t sound like the type of man who would need anyone to get him a date if he wanted one. On the contrary, his problem was probably choosing from the myriad of women lining up outside his door.
“I admit there’s a possibility that I might have been a bit hasty. I should apologise for my behaviour but I don’t have his number. If he does text me his address, I will go there in person and tell him how sorry I am.” Tola said.
“A guy like that can’t be difficult to find,” Shade said. “I bet if you asked around, someone would know how to get in touch with him.”
“I can’t exactly go around asking about him and his contact details. What would people think?” Tola asked. “Damn! Why do things like this always happen to me?”
“If it’s any consolation, I goofed big time when I first met Jola too.” Tomi said, as she pulled Tola into a side embrace.
“Hmm! I’m curious to hear about that, if only to reassure me I’m normal.” Tola said.
“Not tonight.” Tomi replied. “Hey, where’s all the fun you promised we would have in the Garden City? I’m starving. Are you planning on feeding us?”
“Me too, I could eat a whole chicken,” Shade said.
“Come on then, grab your stuff. I know just the place for you, my dear friends.
“That’s more like it. Lead on,” Tomi replied as they made their way out of the bar.